John Gorman's story is very much about a football man, but it is also much more than just that. After a lifetime in the game John thought he had seen and done it all. He had played, coached and managed at the top and experienced the harsh realities of survival at the lower end of the scale. There was little in professional football that he had not had to cope with. But on a cold February day in 2006 as he gazed lovingly into the weary eyes of his dying wife, Myra, he knew trying to maintain his ability to think clearly as a manager would be impossible. Football had always meant so much to him, but love for his wife meant so much more. Gorman knew Myra was losing her brave battle to beat the cancer which was doggedly eating away at her body, but it could not break her spirit or dim the brightness of her personality that had been so much a part of John's life. When her death occurred just a few days later it was the start of one of the bleakest periods in Gorman's life, losing one job and walking away from another, as he struggled to cope and come to terms with existing without the woman he had loved since their teenage years.
Gory Tales starts with that traumatic time for Gorman, expressing all the raw emotion felt by John, leading into the second chapter which recalls the first time he met Myra when they were both youngsters. The story will then explore John's childhood days in Scotland and how football became so much part of his life. Having played alongside, coached or managed some of the biggest names British football has thrown up during the past 40 years, John is able to offer a true insider's view on the game he has loved since he was a kid. Jock Stein, Kenny Dalglish, Rodney Marsh, George Best, Gazza, David Beckham and Michael Owen are all names that have featured in his career, and Gorman's enduring friendship with Glenn Hoddle, which began back in the 1970's when the two men were players at Tottenham, allows John Gory' Gorman (his nickname as a player) to give a unique insight into the private man behind the public headlines. After a near-death experience at the age of nine, Gorman went on to sign as a professional for his childhood heroes Celtic, when the Scottish giants were conquering Europe in the late 1960's.
After being ditched by the Glasgow club, John had to re-build his career at Carlisle before his skilful and tenacious performances as a left-back earned him a glamour move to Tottenham. Injury almost ended his playing career but after being advised to quit by the London club, he refused to throw in the towel and instead began a new life in the States, enjoying success with Tampa Bay Rowdies during a boom time for Soccer in America. A return to England saw Gorman leave the glitz of life in the USA for a more humble start to his coaching career with Gillingham, where he looked after the youth and reserve teams, as well as driving the bus to matches! A similar stint at Leyton Orient followed before he teamed up with Hoddle again, as the two took charge at Swindon. Success followed as they guided the Wiltshire club to a play-off victory at Wembley which ensured Premiership football. But Hoddle decided to leave Swindon and move to Chelsea, asking Gorman to join him at Stamford Bridge.
A dramatic eleventh-hour change of heart by John saw him stay and become the new boss of Swindon, putting a strain on his relationship with Glenn as Hoddle completed his move to the West London side. Despite what many people in football thought, their friendship managed to overcome the incident and when Hoddle was offered the chance to take over as England coach in 1996, it was Scotsman Gorman who joined him as his assistant. After leading the national side to the World Cup finals in France things turned sour for Hoddle and he was sacked by the FA, leaving the pair out of work. After spells at Ipswich, WBA and Reading, Gorman's partnership with Hoddle was renewed when they were installed as the management team at Southampton, before leaving in controversial circumstances in 2001 for their spiritual home at Tottenham. Despite making progress the need for success proved too much at White Hart Lane and a little more than two years later they were shown the door.
John reveals the kind of pressures and expectations that come with managing a big club like Spurs, and is able to give a behind-the-scenes insight into the contrast of life at a big name outfit like Tottenham, compared to his most recent jobs as manager of Wycombe and Northampton. He also talks about becoming Southampton's chief scout in the summer of 2007, before taking caretaker charge of the team early in 2008, when George Burley left to become Scotland's new boss. The book ends by revisiting the tragedy of his wife's death but ends on an optimistic note as John talks about his second stint with the Saints, how he is now rebuilding his life with the help and love of family (son, daughter and grandchildren) and friends, and of how the memory of Myra's spirit and personality has helped him to cope and move forward. Gory Tales, will deal in detail and at length with some controversial incidents John has been involved in, and he will give his blunt and honest assessment of some of the characters he has dealt with along the way.
The story has a broad appeal with Gorman having played for, coached or managed so many clubs during a long and distinguished career, knitting together the nostalgia associated with a lost era in football (1960's and 70's) with the top names and headline makers of the modern game.