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Friday, September 14, 2007

Ex-QPR's Ian Holloway's Autobiography Set for Publication

Update: Although the book's official publication date is the beginning of next week, it is actually already on sale at some places!

The Herald has been given exclusive access to Argyle manager Ian Holloway's autobiography, days ahead of its publication, in which Ollie, famous for his one-liners, blunt honesty and cutting humour, reveals a different side - a life scarred by personal tragedy and devastating illness and rocked by disability affecting three of his children.
In the new book Ollie admits to having had to face up to psychological flaws to change behaviour which was making his wife, Kim, suffer.
Holloway talks frankly about:
The premature death of his father, which sparked Ian's spirituality;
Kim's battle with cancer. She was given only a one-in-three chance of surviving;
The birth their first child - after Kim was told she could never have children because of the effects of the treatment for cancer;
The discovery that their three daughters who followed were all profoundly deaf and the couple's struggle to cope with the disability;
Kim's severe depression, which led Holloway to do something almost unheard of for a professional footballer - to take a month off during the season;
The appalling pressures faced by football managers, from rival fans wishing his children dead and threatening to firebomb his house to allegations of gun threats in the boardroom.
Holloway's honesty about his private life and his shortcomings is out of step with the macho image of football.
Many players and managers pride themselves in wearing their heart on their sleeve.
But the Argyle boss bares his soul in his autobiography, 'Ollie'.
The Herald has been given exclusive access to the book which is not published until Monday.
The volume is a world away form the bland sports biographies that fill bookshops.
His revelations, frankness and colourful language - including his trademark crazy metaphors - will help cement Holloway's reputation as being one of a select group of football personalities, from the late Bill Shankly of Liverpool to Jose Mourinho of Chelsea, who are familiar even to people with no interest in sport.
The 44-year-old told The Herald: "I would have never written it if it was bland.
"The market is saturated. There are 21-year-old footballers writing their life story - and they haven't even had a life yet."
Holloway writes how as a young footballer with Bristol Rovers in his native city he first witnessed tragedy with two deaths: of a team-mate from cancer and the young son of another through leukaemia.
A family shock followed soon after. Kim, then his girlfriend, developed lumps on her neck.
Non-hodgkin's lymphoma was diagnosed and she was told she was unlikely to survive.
Holloway writes: "It was unbelievable. The focus that Kim had from that moment on was utterly inspiring."
She started chemotherapy. They were still living in Bristol while he was playing for Wimbledon - so he was unable to be with for every treatment session.
"On each occasion we tried to make the most of our time together because we never knew whether or not each meeting would be the last.
"We had some fantastic times, sharing moments neither of us will ever forget, not knowing if the future we yearned for together would ever become a reality."
Kim was successfully treated but told that the chemotherapy would probably leave her infertile.
They were married in May, 1987 - and a month later she fell pregnant. "For us it was a genuine miracle," Holloway writes.
But before William was born, Ian's father died of a heart attack.
"I felt angry and cheated because he was just 59," Holloway says in the book.
"My only advice to anyone reading this is to tell the people you love exactly what you think of them while they're still here."
The ex-seaman was an outstanding amateur footballer and father and son were close.
In the autobiography, Holloway explains how he had shared his father's belief that there was no afterlife, but his dad's death "wiped the blackboard clean" and he found a spirituality to his own life.
He recounts how he has felt his father's "presence" many times since - starting with giving him the courage to play a game within hours of the death.
He told The Herald: "I feel very very privileged to have had the parents I had.
"I was shown how to love another person by the way my parents were with each other."
He counts himself lucky to have had such a stable home life.
"I was brought up to respect; to respect teachers, police officers, my parents.
"As a manager I see it more and more, lots of (young players) coming in from broken homes."
The birth of William, now 19, was followed by the arrival of twins Chloe and Eve two years later.
Holloway writes of the shock of discovering that the girls were deaf. Suddenly, he and Kim were faced with having to learn a new language: signing.
"It was like learning English before you could talk to your children," he says in the book.
Gradually, the family learned to cope. But when another daughter, Harriet (now 15) was born deaf despite vanishingly small odds, Holloway was hit hard.
"I didn't take it very well, but Kim was totally the opposite, (saying) 'Well thank God for that. She's come to us and we're already a family who knows what they're doing with deaf children so it was meant to be'.
"Thank God for Kim."
Holloway's playing career was at its peak - he played 500 games for Bristol Rovers, Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers (including in the Premiership) before becoming Rovers' player-manager.
In the book he reveals that the pressure of coping with four children, three of them with special needs, took its toll on Kim while he was devoting himself to his career at QPR.
He writes: "Things were deteriorating at home... Kim was under tremendous strain bringing up four kids virtually single-handedly." Her depression was so bad that for one spell "she was unable to get out of bed".
Holloway was given a month off football by the then manager, former England star Ray Wilkins.
He admits that despite the break he still did not do enough to help Kim and "it almost cost me my family and my future together".
"Kim was so exhausted and mentally drained... I wonder how she ever got through it.
"I just wasn't there for her in the way I should have been, which... I will always regret."
His own behaviour was a problem too. Only when he moved into management and was boss at QPR did he realise how bad it was. He took part in a BBC documentary about the stresses of football.
A psychologist told him his perfectionist attitude was at the root of his anger which he vented on himself and Kim.
He told The Herald: "Up to then I was uptight, self-centred very full of myself.
"I felt humbled by that comment.
"At the age of 41 I had to change."
During his career he has suffered threats from rival fans while at Bristol Rovers, obscene abuse from some of his own supporters during a run of bad results at QPR and been caught up in boardroom turmoil while managing the London club - seven men accused to trying to blackmail a director at gunpoint were later cleared in a court.
But Holloway insists that he has come out of it all a better person.
"I am not one of those people who lives to work," he told The Herald. "I give it all when I am there, but I work to live.
"My family comes first, they balance me. Without them I would not want to live."
Life's traumas have helped make him, insists Holloway, who paraphrases the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche: "What does not kill us makes us stronger."
'Ollie' The Autobiography of Ian Holloway is published by Green Umbrella at £16.99. Plymouth Herald

The Ian Holloway Story - "Ollie: The Autobiography of Ian Holloway " (with Foreword by Gerry Francis)
"Ollie" - The Autobiography of Ian Holloway will be launched in September, this is more than just a football book this is a story of personal grit and determination. Ian Holloway, manager of Championship side Plymouth Argyle is one of football's most outspoken and interesting characters as well as being a respected football coach. This book will be the first time that Ollie tells his story from his days as an apprentice at Bristol Rovers through to his playing days at the highest level with QPR. Now a respected football manager he has had many personal battles to overcome not least illness and learning that his children are profoundly deaf."
Plymouth Argyle store

Plymouth Herald - Plymouth related snippets "Chris Errington has reviewed some of the memorable footballing moments from Ollie's soon-to-be-published autobiography...." Excerpts

Argyle manager Ian Holloway will take part in nine book-signing sessions, including four in Plymouth, to promote his new autobiography, 'Ollie.'...
There will also be one in London, before Argyle's away game against Queens Park Rangers in the Championship on Tuesday, September 18.
It will take place at WH Smith, 16 Kings Mall, King Street W6 0PZ (12noon-2pm).
Holloway will also carry out four book signing sessions in Bristol, starting on Tuesday, September 11 at the Bristol Rovers club shop at the Memorial Stadium.
The 44-year-old played for and managed Bristol Rovers and QPR, before being appointed Argyle boss in June 2006.
'Ollie' will be on sale from all leading bookshops from Monday, September 17, priced at £16.99.
For further information, go online at www.ollieontour.co.uk . Gazette


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