Foreword by Jimmy Greaves
Former Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham & England legend
There have been more skilful players than Gerry Hitchens, but he was an uncomplicated footballer with obvious natural talent and virtues. However, Gerry had a bit extra to offer – the instinct to sniff out half-chances and to score goals in abundance. This book follows the life of a young miner who was plucked from the mineshaft to find himself playing football in the Italian league a few years later. It is surely something that dreams are made of, but this is exactly what happened to one such talented, working-class lad from a small mining village in Shropshire in the late 1950s.
With contributions from some legendary footballers, such as Jimmy Greaves, Sir Bobby Charlton, and Peter McParland, this biography illustrates the path taken by a lad who rose from rags to riches and saw many twists and turns during his short but eventful life. These values continued to make him well-liked and admired after his football career ended.
He continued to play in charity games, and it was a great sadness when he died prematurely in 1983 playing the game he loved in one of those matches.
Foreword by Gigi Riva
Former Inter Milan, Cagliari & Italy legend
After being plucked away from the mines in 1952 by non-League Kidderminster Harriers, Gerry was signed by FA Cup holders, Aston Villa in 1957 for £22,500. By May 1961, Gerry was the number one striker in England and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Charlton, Haynes, Armfield and (Bobby) Robson on his debut at Wembley against Mexico. It was like a dream come true for Gerry as he scored on his debut within 90 seconds – just like Harry Kane did. It got even better for Gerry two weeks later as he partnered Jimmy Greaves and scored a brace against a great Italian side on their own turf. From that day on, Gerry’s life would change forever - because he became the hottest property in Europe after that display in Rome. A month later, and after a season where Gerry scored 42 goals in 56 games for Villa, Gerry couldn’t turn down an offer (and a huge salary) to play for Inter Milan - and Aston Villa profited by £80,000, and Gerry banked a large signing on fee.
It had taken nine years for Gerry to become, not only the ‘pin-up’ boy at Aston Villa but to become the hottest property in Europe.
However, not only had Gerry’s life changed, living the ‘la Dolce Vita’ in Italy, but back in England, 1961 was the year when football changed forever.
Together with his beautiful wife Meriel the couple were the ‘Posh and Becks’ of the day and were adored by the paparazzi and followed everywhere they went in Italy. The couple loved Italy and embraced the culture and lived ‘la dolce vita’ to the full. Gerry went on to spend eight years in Serie A, playing for four clubs including: Inter Milan, Torino, Atalanta and Cagliari (a record which still stands in the Guinness Book of Records).
The family returned to the UK in 1969 and he played out his career for Worcester City and Merthyr Tydfil and later settled in North Wales. Gerry continued to play in charity matches for several years until he collapsed and died playing the game he loved in 1983 during another charity match in Mold, North Wales. He was only 48 but he’d lived the dream, the dream he had when he was a child and that was to play football for England at Wembley and not many people can say that.
Forewords by John Terry and Ben Shepherd
This is a true account of how a ‘normal’ little boy with big dreams and a selfless, compassionate outlook on life proves that, with hard work, determination, and a bit of cheek, anyone can achieve any goal they set themselves in life. Even though Harry was diagnosed with brain cancer aged seven, that didn’t stop him from wanting to help others, and he used the simple idea of making beaded bracelets to raise money for charity.
When Harry sadly passed away in October 2011, he had raised a staggering £650,000 for his chosen charities. Now, his legacy lives on thanks to his mum Georgina and his army of followers organising events in Harry’s memory and has now runs a cancer care charity (www.HHHO.org.uk)
Read Harry’s story and help to carry on what he started by buying the book!
Foreword by Ian Taylor
Former Aston Villa midfielder
This is a unique book of Villa fans' memories. Throw in some Villa-related poems, historical facts, a bit of trivia, some one-liners, and a few original photographs, and you've got the recipe for an interesting and informative book that all Villa fans will love.
Aston Villa's history is second to none, and the fans have seen some fantastic teams and some exceptional players (and some not so good times, too). This book will surely bring back some of those memories from the dim and distant past. They range from the days when the club were in the doldrums and in the lower divisions, to when they were the best in Europe - and everything in between.
Never before have Aston Villa supporters been taken on such a varied and enjoyable trip down memory lane, (or Witton Lane), by their fellow fans.
Foreword by Mike Summerbee
Former Manchester City forward
This is a story of a typical Scottish lad who, from an early age, excelled in every sport - and was born a winner. Thomson gives an untold, behind-the-scenes insight into his public and private life that touches every raw emotion you can think of. In this compelling book, he talks about his hard upbringing in Scotland, the many fights he had with some of his managers and teammates, several near-death experiences, the famous 'sex and booze' scandal which was revealed in a Sunday newspaper in 1967, and also touches on his own battle with the booze; in the 1960s, Bobby Thomson was known as 'The George Best of the Midlands'.
It also paints Bobby in another light, as he has, for many years, raised thousands of pounds for several charities and is always the first to help out others. This is the real Bobby Thomson – The Real Bobby Dazzler – in his own words.
Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a rollercoaster of a ride.