A DIFFERENT SHADE OF GREEN: THE ALAN McLOUGHLIN STORY
WITH BRYCE EVANS
Earlier this month I attended a fans evening at Fratton Park in honour of Portsmouth F.C and Irish football legend, Alan ‘Macca’ McLoughlin. The midfielder and current first team coach was hugely popular with supporters many of whom were packed in for an interesting Q+A and queued up to have the legend sign a copy of his book. It was nice to see him happy and relaxed and looking well after his recent terrifying battle with cancer.
However, just days later Macca was mysteriously sacked by Pompey. It came as a real shock to me, the fans and probably to himself and his family but as his book here goes to show, that’s all part and parcel of a turbulent, unpredictable life in football.
A Different Shade of Green is a rollercoaster tale of a proud sporting career. Brilliantly written by Bryce Evans this is no run of the mill account of wags, booze and trophies. Instead it is a look back with an intelligent eye over an eventful international career with Ireland, the good times and bad times with his predominant clubs – Swindon Town and Portsmouth F.C – and his obvious devotion to family life.
From the devastation of being let go by Manchester United as a teenager to meeting the Pope as part of the Italia ’90 Irish squad, Macca has experienced the many highs and lows of a footballing life and it’s a fascinating read.
Macca enjoyed successful times as part of the “best ever” Swindon Town team under Ossie Ardilles. He endured disappointing days at Southampton and overcame early abuse from fans when he switched to bitter rivals Portsmouth further along the south coast. The Pompey faithful eventually took him to their hearts after a series of goals and excellent performances. Feelings which grew stronger when he became the midfield lynchpin in the very special 1992-93 team sitting behind the exciting attacking partnership of Paul Walsh and goal machine Guy Whittingham.
But it is his career as a Republic of Ireland international that has obviously brought him the greatest happiness. The son of Irish parents, he was delighted to be called up to the Republic squad. Despite being labelled as “plastic Irish” by some homegrown players who liked to needle those who made the cut via their parents and grandparents, he became an overnight hero when he scored an equalising goal against Northern Ireland to send his country through to World Cup USA ’94. The undoubted highlight of his career.
There’s plenty of hi-jinks recalled in the book mostly involving formidable manager Jack Charlton and Macca’s Irish teammates. Whilst fans of your average footballer’s biography could say this book is a little light on gossip, Roy Keane’s part in proceedings alone makes for some intriguing reading.
I’d definitely recommend this book to Swindon, Pompey and Ireland fans. Macca had a great playing career and this is a more than decent memoir. I wish him all the best on his road to recovery and in whatever he does next.
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 8/10
- He grew up a secret Red in the Blue half of Manchester
- He was classmates at school with none other than Oasis’ Noel Gallagher – who no doubt would not have been impressed if he’d known the first fact (above)!
- Macca scored in the first ever game I saw at Fratton Park as Pompey beat his former club Swindon 3-1 in October 1992