Book Review: Fast Forward

Fast Forward by Andrew Cole

I remember watching Andrew (He doesn’t mention the debate regarding his first name in this memoir but it’s clear that he’s an Andrew not Andy) burst onto the Premier League with Newcastle United in 1993.

He became a star during the glorious early years of the Premier League, moving to Manchester United and playing a huge part in their rich history too.

Yet Cole never seemed to do a lot of press during his playing days, he certainly didn’t crave the media attention that many of his colleagues would seek out. He’d prefer to do his talking on the pitch.

Often people get disturbed by silence, especially from footballers. It can lead to whispering campaigns or conjecture regarding a player’s attitude or their commitment to the game.

Thankfully, Andrew Cole has stepped forward and given an honest account in this biography. His England career, the Teddy Sheringham feud, his battle against kidney failure, that treble winning season, his transfers and manager fallouts are all covered.

Two relevant topics standout for me… Racism and Mental Health Issues.

Cole states that he didn’t really need to tackle racism until he became entangled in the world of football. I don’t think it was particularly overt throughout his career but he’s right when he says that it can often be disguised. For instance when a white player stands up for himself it can be called character, while often if a black player does the same thing then they can be classed a problem. When you look back and really think about it, it’s pretty true and still happens today.

It doesn’t help that too many football managers struggle to get to grips with different individuals, people they can’t instantly relate too. Instead of taking time to know young players (black or white) they’ll usually make up instant opinions. The world and humanity is far more complicated than that and Cole helps to explain that to the reader.

I truly believe we all have our inner demons, some more than others. It’s a battle between ourselves and our minds. Andrew doesn’t shirk away from discussing his own inability to realise that there were other ways to fix problems rather than bottling everything up. Many will read this and hopefully they’ll understand this too.

Andrew does a superb job in hitting all the topics in which a fan would want to hear from him. The highs and lows are covered in equal measure.

There’s also a strong dignity and a healthy dose of respect that runs through this book. Even when discussing people he may have disliked, Cole always finds time to find something nice to say about them or at least understand where they might have been coming from. There’s no assassination jobs here!

When he likes a person, like Sir Alex Ferguson or Roy Keane, then he pounds the pages with admiration. He’s very loyal to all those that he loves. He mentions protecting and looking out for younger players and a tiny bit of research online backs that up.

I came away from this book knowing more about Andrew Cole and the more I knew the more I liked. He’s a lot more grounded than many a player who reached the same levels he did.

Self-confident? Yes but not arrogant. An honest figure that has finally righted a lot of wrongs that were written about him.

Bravo Andrew, a class forward and a stand up gentlemen.

You purchase Fast Forward by Andrew Cole online with Waterstones.

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