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Scoring - An Expert's Guide by frank McAvennie with reg McKay; Canongate Publishing; 259 pages (inc. 16 pages of colour pics) hardback; £14.99

Younger readers who were unfortunate enough not to have seen the dyed blond bombshell in his pomp during his first spell with the Hoops at the tail end of the Eighties will probably still be familiar with Frank McAvennie as the Jonathon Watson caricature who ends every spoof interview with the question, 'Where's the burdz?' His autobiography, ghosted by Reg McKay, does nothing to dispel the popular stereotype. He really was, it seems, in a state of almost total thrall to his apendage, and appears to have spent whatever time he wasn't playing football marauding through nightclubs like a dog straining on a leash, sniffing out vodka and oestrogen in almost equal measure.

Interspersed between bouts of orgiastic hedonism, and in order to fund a lifestyle that saw him keeping similar hours to Count Yorga the vampire, McAvennie played football for a living. Pretty good he was at it as well, achieving legendary status at West Ham in a striking partnership with Tony Cottee and writing his way into the Celtic history books thanks to his goals during the double-winning Centenary season.

If you're tempted by the title into parting with your cash thinking that you're purchasing a coaching manual dedicated to the striker's art then pause to reflect on McAvennie's training regime for a second. I shudder to think what would have become of him had he signed for, say, Inter Milan and been forced to stay in a celibate training camp for weeks before an important match. 'Sex', he says, 'was my pre-match training'.

His post-match regime would also make Oliver Reed blanche, consisting of vodka-fuelled romps through an assortment of late-night clubs. You can understand why he's scathing about big Lorenzo's application to join the alcoholic footballer's club on the strength of his predeliction for Bailley's Irish Cream: 'That's not a drink, it's a meal.'

His account of his first incarnation at Parkhead is actually quite entertaining. The infamous Butcher/ Roberts/ Woods affair provides another insight into the people in charge of the club at the time; Jimmy Farrell, reprising his role as the Doormouse at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, was a Celtic director and lawyer and the rest of the Concert Party thought they'd save a few quid by getting him to represent McAvennie in court. He must have been relieved when, thanks to the intervention of Souness no less, he was eventually taken under the wing of Len Murray, especially as Farrell was wont to refer to McAvennie as 'Patrick' (mind you, he also used to call Joe Miller 'Willie').

While McAvennie's departure from Celtic didn't quite have the same seismic reverberations as that of Dalglish a decade before him, it still gave plenty of us even more excuses for gnashing of teeth. In the book he reveals it was, as usual, a contractual matter, but the suspicion lingers that his increasingly complex private life had as much a part to play, particularly the influence of his then 'page three stunner' burd.

Thereafter McAvennie's story takes ever more bizarre twists, often degenerating into farce. Lengthy spells on the injured list on his return to West Ham proved disastrous as he appears to have had little to fill in his time off the pitch apart from self-indulgence. As his playing career drew to a close (you'll never see Chris Kamara in the same light again if you read how McAvennie came by his last injury) he simply lurched from one fiasco to another, both in his personal relationships (painful to read) and in his 'business' dealings (almost as painful).

A plethora of tabloid-style stories bring his life up to date, and if you are an unreconstructed lad you might find them enjoyable. As for me, I couldn't derive much pleasure from the thought of somebody I once worshipped from the Jungle fraternising with assorted seedy underworld figures, especially when Macca comes away with stuff like this when talking about people he himself describes as 'some of the leading gangster faces in London':'They were great company and their morals were spot on.'

Like Marlon Brando's character in 'On The Waterfront', McAvennie could have been a contender. It's a shame that he never realised that himself.

MANFRED LURKER

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