The Outer Circle

By Ian Ridley

Set in the week following the London Olympics, this novel imagines an attack on London Central Mosque and follows five people caught up in its aftermath

Thursday, 16 February 2017

What would Tony Adams think?

AS I watched an abject Arsenal surrender to Bayern 5-1 in Munich last night, I couldn’t help wondering – WWTT. That is to say, What Would Tony Think?

Back in the last century, I worked with Tony Adams - Arsenal’s legendary captain who won league titles with them in three different decades – on his autobiography Addicted.

And over the last two years – alongside completing my novel, The Outer Circle - I have spent a lot of time working with him again for the second instalment of his life story to mark 20 years of him being abstinent from the alcohol that was wrecking his life.

Naturally enough, it is called Sober, and will be published by Simon and Schuster in June.

The book covers his last six years as a player and his experiences in coaching and management, with Wycombe, Portsmouth and in Azerbaijan. Of course, he has much of interest to say on Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

It was why media outlets were on to him immediately this morning for his views. “Lots of interest,” as he said – along with a winking emoji – in a text to me.

He is likely to keep it all to himself for now, however, not just due to the book’s commercial sensitivity currently but also because he wants to tell his tale in depth rather than in a few soundbites. His relationship with Arsenal and Wenger is complicated, deep and nuanced. I can say that the material in the book is, in my admittedly biased view as his writer, typically honest and indeed riveting.

And when it comes to WWTT, I do know that he would not have tolerated quietly the way some Arsenal players appeared to give up, if they ever started. Mesut Ozil’s inertia as Arjen Robben ran through to open the scoring for the German side would have warranted a bollocking that would have made sure it didn’t happen again. And it happens too regularly these days, though I’m not sure bollockings do.

I also know that Tony would have offered the backbone that Arsenal are so sadly lacking in their current guise and which may well lead to a frustrated Wenger departing at the end of the season having reached a wearied conclusion and before his towering reputation tumbles. We will see.

Tony has been generous about my novel. When I told him of the plot and the characters, he said he liked the sound of it and to help me, he agreed to donate a limited edition 10 signed retro Arsenal shirts that mark the 1985 Centenary season, when he became a regular in the team at the age of 19. The shirts will be framed to become a collector’s item and an investment.

In addition, those who pledge for them will receive a first edition of Sober hot off the press, signed by Tony, and with an individual message if desired. Oh yes, and a copy of The Outer Circle signed by me. I realise that may be a sideshow prize, but hey, an author’s gotta earn a living.

(An anecdote here: when Addicted came out in 1998, Tony was booked to do a signing in the window of Selfridge’s in London’s Oxford Street. The queue stretched around the block and what was supposed to last an hour went on for three. I sat in a corner and watched him sign several hundred books. Just one person asked his ghost writer to sign. I know my place).

So please pledge if possible. Writing sports books has been my living but this novel has been a mission for the last few years.

Just drag your cursor up to the Home icon at the top of this page and click. Then go down the pledge list on the right hand side to the Tony Adams shirts (or any other pledge you like the look of)… And click again. Will be forever grateful.









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