Justin Bryant on Left Foot in the Grave

Justin Bryant talks about ‘Left Foot in the Grave’ by Garry Nelson, a diary of the highs and lows of struggling third division football league club Torquay United. “Nelson’s diary offers a truly fascinating picture of the day-to-day crises in the less-exposed end of the professional game.”

Having struggled as a player in lower leagues and part-time outfits, it is fascinating to see this level reflected from the managerial side, where the chief concern is neither titles nor relegation, but simply fielding 11 healthy players from game to game.

Nelson’s diary of his season as player/manager of Torquay United has far more heart than the average ‘gritty’ memoir. The author is suitably reflective but not maudlin, keenly aware of his advancing years and growing financial pressures. Gallows humour abounds, and Nelson frequently wonders if it is worth it; we know all along that it is.

Justin Bryant is author of ‘Small Time: A Life in the Football Wilderness.’

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