A look inside the world of one of the most familiar face on Sky Sports football coverage, does Chris Kamara’s autobiography – Mr. Unbelievable – reach similar heights to his noted ‘enthusiastic’ match reports?
2011 was a major breakthrough in my football consumption. This came about due to finally getting to subscribe to the Sky Sports package (as well as getting ESPN) and thus being able to enjoy a plethora of matches and other footie-based programmes. After a year of this it’s fair to say that Sky still leaves the others in the shade when it comes to quality television presentation of football. One vital reason for that are personalities like Chris Kamara. His status means that he is in a cushty position to put together his autobiography.
The first thing to note is that unlike some footie autobiographies – this is one that football fans will appreciate … and probably only football fans. Whereas in a few autobiographies there is something to appeal to those who don’t know or like the sport, this one is definitely high geared towards lovers of the game. Also worth mentioning at the outset also is that Kamara’s voice is clear in the book. Often it is obvious when something has ‘helped’ with a book, and indeed Kamara wrote the book with someone, but evidently the someone was just a scribe for the unmistakeable style of the effervescent football broadcaster. This makes the book refreshingly light to read – and that is not an indication that Kamara is somewhat superficial, but he is a regular kinda guy who keeps things simple and endeavours to keep them interesting.
The format of the book is rather odd. The first part is taken up with all the goings-on at his Sky job. Then he goes back to the beginning to tell his storied career from the harsh background growing up in Middlesbrough to the end of his all too brief managerial career when it did not work for him at Stoke City. The format is odd because interesting though the Sky bit is, to put it first means the book kinda slows down in terms of interest, excitement and intensity and almost peters out as we are told of what life is like for him now at home and so forth. The added chapter about his stint at World Cup 2010 seems almost arbitrary.
Those points aside, this is an engaging read into the life of a man who is devoted to his football, and his charismatic and charming character has obviously been a hit on the television and the book helps to uncover why in terms of how his gobby personality whilst maintaining decorum where necessary and as a result gaining the respect of pros in the game. His name-dropping is not so much annoying as helpful in highlighting the circles that he moves in and he’s just as ready to laugh at himself as he is ready to comment about some other personality.
That same honesty informs his encounters throughout his career and without looking to defame characters he doesn’t do niceties when what is called for is the brutal truth about things that went horribly wrong. That makes the book all the more enjoyable and readable.
It is fairly evident in reading the book that Kamara is not looking to put together an intense and deep book that will rock the football world to its foundations. It will not win any awards for brilliance and literary craft, but it tells the story of a man’s life very well, which considering all that he has experienced and conveys on the screen is not unbelievable.