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As a player, Jim Smith was a journeyman of the lower divisions. As a manager, he achieved success doing it the hard way, starting at non-league Boston United before eventually getting his first League management break with Colchester United. His next move was to Blackburn Rovers, and after turning down the West Bromwich Albion job that his longstanding friend Ron Atkinson took, Smith was made manager of Birmingham City. In his fascinating autobiography, Jim Talks about the City years. There are great anecdotes about colourful players like Frank Worthington and Archie Gemmill and Smith reveals why Trevor Francis was not the first million-pound player. He also reveals the trauma he suffered at his first dismissal as he was sacked by the club. Infamous chairmen loom large in Jim's life. He came across robert Maxwell at Oxford United, Jim Gregory at QPR and the Hall family at Newcastle United. Maxwell almost bought Manchester United and Smith tells how Maxwell would probably have taken him to Old Trafford. But at Portsmouth Jim smith was controversially fired and instead of returning to management, he became Chief Executive of the football Managers' Association. He returned to manage Derby County, leading to the Premiership and keeping them there, until his departure in September 2001. In his refreshing book he talks openly about the key players he has brought to the club, and about the ones that got away. His is an amazing career with success often achieved on a tight budget. Full of gritty determination and controversy, it is studded with stories about the great and the good in the game, as well as about the villains. It's Only a Game resonates with the unique sense of humour which characterises the man himself.
- Carlton Books Ltd, November 2000
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