For my money, this is the best of Annis Abrahams’ books so far. I’m not sure if it is strictly speaking an autobiography: the majority of the book, as with Annis’ previous books, is still taken up with accounts of exploits at football matches, with just selected highlights of the author’s personal life. Unless of course it really is the case (quite possible!) that 90% of the life of the man once dubbed “Mr Cardiff” actually is devoted to supporting his beloved club!
The book features an entertaining introduction by Sam Hammam, the notoriously enigmatic former chairman of Cardiff City with whom Annis had a close friendship for most of his tenure. Despite Sam Hammam making this contribution to the book, the book is not always complimentary about him, which seems slightly incongruous, but I suppose it’s a reflection of the reality of the situation. Hammam was much loved for a spell, but people did turn against him. It’s certainly true however that most fans of the club have fond memories of the time he was in charge.
Despite this book having been proof-read, there are still frequent errors – whether it is a mis-placed apostrophe here, or an unnecessary use of capitals there – which is a shame as it gives the impression the book has been slightly rushed. With a little more care (the pages should really be right justified as well), it could have had a more polished look.
This aside, it’s still a very readable, engrossing book, which grips you better than many a book by more established authors – there are many “better written” books I have not finished reading, but this is a book I enjoyed to the end. From entertaining accounts of the time Cardiff played Hartlepool away at the same ground that Middlesbrough would later play Port Vale on the same day, to more troubling times for Annis, such as when he was caught up in events during forays abroad.
I’m not entirely sure of the accuracy of all the details in the book – for example, I’m almost certain that the fans who started The Ayatollah had not, as Annis states, been out to the Middle East, but merely seen footage on TV, but that’s a minor point.
In his summary at the end, Annis describes himself as a humble man, and for me this is the impressive thing about him and the way he comes across in the book. Whether he is mixing with the hierarchy of Cardiff City FC or on the terraces at Hereford Utd, he has no heirs and graces – he is a football fan first and foremost, with always the best interest of the club at heart.