Me Owd Duck on Larry Lloyd’s book
Larry Lloyd’s Hard Man: Hard Game is one of the best accounts of Forest’s golden years that I have read. I think Lloyd benefits hugely from having a female ghost writer. At the risk of being sexist, it just allows one of the hardest men I have ever met to admit to all sorts of things that I am not sure he would if he’d have played it safe and used a male sports journalist to help him write the book.
Larry starts by admitting that as a child he used to frequently dress as a girl. I don’t know why that appealed to me, but a hard man admitting that was refreshing. He is very much a family man and his stories about his blind father were really touching. It was a surprise to realise he played in one of the greatest FA Cup finals I have ever watched, 1971 Liverpool v Arsenal with the famous Charlie George goal. It is also easy to forget that he played under two of the greatest managers in the history of the game, Shankly and Clough. Shankly’s retirement was Lloyd’s undoing at Liverpool and his time at Coventry was wretched. He was in two minds about joining Forest as it meant moving down a division, but thankfully he finally decided to join Clough and Taylor’s revolution.
I am fortunate enough to have met Larry and I loved the story about his daughter bringing her boyfriend home for the first time. He called Mr Lloyd ‘Larry’ and Mr Lloyd duely threatened to rearrange his face. I would certainly think twice before dating Mr Lloyd’s daughter. This is an incredibly honest book and it charts the failure of his marriage and his attempts to secure a future for himself by buying a bar in Spain. That was when the book was written in 2008 and it felt then like it would never work; as I met him recently in West Bridgford, it would seem that Nottingham remains his home and his time in Spain at ‘Lloyd No 5 Bar’ has come to an end.
After Forest, which Mr Lloyd covers quite quickly, he became player manager at Wigan. The greatest journey he undertook in many ways was playing in Tokyo in the World Club Championship against Montevideo to playing against Exeter City for Wigan. The book is not without humour. Lloyd tells the story of ‘The Great Blazer Row’ where his annoyance with Clough’s insistence that he had been told to wear the club uniform on the way back from a match ended up with Lloyd being dropped from the team and fined £500. Fortunately Brian was away the following week and Peter Taylor at last saw sense to reduce the fine.
There is a warmth in this book, unlike many football autobiographies. Larry Lloyd is a larger than life character and this really shines through. If you are looking for some kind of detailed research project about Forest at their zenith, then this isn’t it. If you are looking for realism, honesty and humour then bingo. Of all the players in that monumental 1979/80 Forest side who have written their stories, Mr Lloyd’s book is easy to read, and something to enjoy.
I’ll see thee.