PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland

Lubo Moravcik - a life less ordinary
by Michael Zeman and Joe Sullivan

What Lubo's Celtic career may have lacked in longevity, it has most certainly made up for in merchandise spin-offs. Hard on the heels of the official Moravcik video (see review in NTV 97) comes the book and the unofficial video.

Although it's credited to two authors, A Life Less Ordinary is by no means a collaboration. Instead it can be divided up into two very distinct parts differing completely in style and content.

Part one covers the early years in Slovakia, St.Etienne and Bastia days in France and takes the Lubo story up to his departure from MSV Duisburg. Much of this is well known to anyone who has watched the first Lubo video which came out before Christmas, which is probably just as well, because there is virtually no attempt whatsoever to put Moravcik's formative life or his fledgling career into any sort of context.

There is so much that is assumed on the part of Zeman that at times renders whole sections of his narrative almost meaningless. The town of Nitra is given no background or setting - I'm still not exactly sure where exactly it is in Slovakia - and famous players are thrown in as if we should know who they are without the slightest hint of any biography to enlighten us as to their place in the history of Czechoslovakian football.

The effects of growing up then playing football in Eastern Europe under a Communist regime is alluded to once or twice yet for all the influence it seems to have had on the lives of the people involved in the book the Iron Curtain might as well have been a rather dodgy cat flap. This is partly because the interviewees are allowed to recount their Lubo tales as long segments in the book. These tales are then incorporated into Zeman's narrative, often repeated several pages later. It reads, at times, as if he sent over a rough draft or notes hoping someone would craft it into something resembling a proper biography.

While in France Lubo rubbed shoulders with some interesting characters, like Marseille chairman Bernard Tapie, but once again the background to the boardroom shuffling at St. Etienne and Marseille is glossed over in a few sentences.

What's most notable about the people interviewed is that the subject of the book isn't among them. The man himself only really starts taking centre stage in the patter department when Sullivan takes up the story, beginning with Lubo's arrival in Glasgow.

The change in style is abrupt and instantly noticable. The second part of the book is pure Celtic View as we are catapulted back to the decadent west where no subject is too trivial and no cliche is left undisturbed.

To be fair, the last 80 pages or so rattle along at quite a pace but it's pretty lightweight stuff, easily readable in a couple of hours. It's padded out with pictures, most of which are of dubious quality, and suffers from positively the worst typography I've ever seen.

With a bit more time and effort this project could have amounted to something worthwhile. After all, a life less ordinary should not inspire a book so ordinary, especially when it has the imprimatur of an official Celtic publication and will require you to part with a tenner if you want one to adorn your already heaving Celtic bookcase.

Altogether not worthy of its subject matter.

MANFRED LURKER