‘Red Card Roy’ is a red hot read

ROY McDonough’s excellent autobiography – ‘Red Card Roy – written by McDonough in harness with sports journalist Bernie Friend – is out this week. In the eyes of U’s correspondent Carl Marston, it is a must-read.

ROY McDonough was the first manager I encountered, when I began reporting on Colchester United in 1992.

And to this day, he remains the first and only manager who has accused me of “not drinking enough,” during a long journey home from a distant away fixture.

And that, in a nutshell, sums up Big Roy. A fun-loving, hard-drinking, hard-playing footballer, and an equally fun-loving, hard-drinking football manager.

I was a still-wet-behind-the-ears reporter when Big Roy was calling the shots at Layer Road.


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He was a larger-than-life character, and I dared not write anything too derogatory about him during those early days. He was the boss, and yet still one of the lads.

That comes out, in all its glory, in Big Roy’s fabulous autobiography – ‘Red Card Roy’ – with the intriguing sub-headline of ‘Sex, Booze and Early Baths. The Life of Britain’s Wildest-Ever Footballer.”

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Colchester supporters will simply love this book, portraying the living legend who led the U’s back into the Football League as an inspirational player-manager.

But you don’t have to be an ardent U’s fan to enjoy ‘Red Card Roy.’

The book is positively dripping with belly-aching tales of wine (or rather beer), women and song, as well as goals, brawls and of course red cards.

Ironically, for a man who played more than 650 games for seven Football League clubs, and a striker who bagged more than 150 goals, it is his dreadful disciplinary record that accounted for most of his column inches in the written press.

There are too many stories to pick out here, in a mere review.

Perhaps his description of the U’s, when he became manager of the then-Conference club in 1991, is an apt example – “We were a full-time professional outfit but we didn’t have a pot to p*** in and I started the season with 14 senior pros and two snotty-nosed apprentices.”

Looking back, I suppose I was a snotty-nosed young reporter, who didn’t drink enough, in the eyes of Big Roy.

Since then, I’ve gone on to work with 12 other Colchester managers, full-time and caretakers, and I must say that, for sheer personality and bravado, Big Roy still tops the lot – by a mile!

If you buy one football book this year, make sure it’s this one.

ROY McDonough will be available to sign copies of ‘Red Card Roy’ at the following events:

Friday, Sept 14: ‘Night with Big Roy’ at Weston Homes Community Stadium (7pm). Admission: �10; �20 (with book or Big Roy burger), �30 (with book and Big Roy burger).

Saturday, Sept 15: Waterstones, Colchester High Street, 11.30am, and Club Shop at Weston Homes Community Stadium, 1pm.

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