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Book Review: And Sometimes the Dog was Busy

Thursday 22nd November 2018
At 25, Fergus Moore takes a beer bath as a 1996/97 Isthmian League champion with Wealdstone FC.
At 25, Fergus Moore takes a beer bath as a 1996/97 Isthmian League champion with Wealdstone FC.

Photo © Graham Smith

For a book with a narrow focus, “And Sometimes The Dog Was Busy” has a lot to say about finding your way in life. On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to listen. If you’re just looking for anecdotes about playing non-league football, Fergus Moore offers plenty in a relatable, down-to-earth and humorous fashion. Either way, the book is worth a football fan’s time.

Title: And sometimes the dog was busy, Careering around the lower leagues
Author: Fergus Moore, Roge Slater
Publisher: CAMS
Published: 2018
Price: £10.99, 
online at Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles, with signed copies from wfcmegastore.co.uk

From 1989-90 through the current season, Ferg played football at one competitive level or another, although only for an extremely short spell as a professional with Brentford at the beginning. In his words, “twenty-seven seasons and eighteen clubs in twenty-odd spells [a couple of them had me back!].”

Although the book ends with the 2017/18 season, his first as manager, Ferg’s story continues, as does his playing career. Never mind that he’s 47. He doesn’t.

Given his obsession with the game, you find yourself wondering along with the man himself whether he could have reached greater heights in his career. Discipline was never the problem. He has enough commitment, work ethic and tactical awareness for a full XI. Despite his passion and enthusiasm, confidence [or the lack thereof] held him back.

The opening chapter details his failure to fit in with the Brentford senior squad as a teenager and how, when they cut him loose, he lacked the defiance to prove them wrong, nearly giving up on his dreams until friends intervened. Given a second chance, he stands up for himself and doesn’t look back.

The elephant on the pitch is that he fails to look forward, as well, taking each moment as it comes, always wondering what the next season holds, but, as a player at least, never planning for it.

At 44, Fergus Moore takes a beer bath as a 2015/16 Spartan South Midland League Division I champion with Edgware Town.
At 44, Fergus Moore takes a beer bath as a 2015/16 Spartan South Midland League Division I champion with Edgware Town.

Photo © Paul Holdrick

It’s said there are two kinds of writers: those who plan their stories and those who write by the seat of their pants. I’m a pantser and, in football, so is Ferg. There’s more than one moment in his story where emotion overrules wisdom, such as a post-match encounter with a referee wherein Ferg counsels himself to just walk on by, doesn’t, then pays for it with a three-match ban. I can relate. As can many others, I suspect. The rest of you can treat it as a cautionary tale.

Another caution to some will be how Ferg openly admits treating his family life secondary to football. I used the word obsession previously for a reason. The game is the most important thing in his life even though it doesn’t provide a living and interferes with everything else.

We know Ferg is married, how many children he has, their names and ages and little else other than he loves them but is admittedly addicted to football. Among the little else is that he made certain his wedding took place in the offseason.  We don’t know how he met the woman he loves and we only see her in the light of her amazing patience with his continued absence from their lives.

We never really learn what Ferg does for a living, either.  We do know he supports his family, however, and wouldn’t dream of abandoning them in a more permanent sense.

These days, the phrase “more important things in life” is thrown about frequently but I’m not judging Fergus Moore. I come from a generation when fathers didn’t resign "to spend more time with their families.” Whether they were sincere or merely using it as an excuse, people would have thought they were crazy. They did what they had to do, more often than not to provide for their families, but when the passion gripped them, also to realise their dreams.

The key to “And Sometimes The Dog Was Busy” is understanding Fergus Moore is no more in control of the thing he loves than any of us. He does what he has to do to follow his dream wherever it takes him. In his case, that isn’t greatness but it’s almost enough.

Tonight's Football Fixtures
Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin contributes frequently to Stretty News and is the author of the short story collection strange bOUnce. He has appeared in several other blogs which, sadly, have ceased to exist. He is old and likes to bring out defunct. Although football is his primary passion, the geezer enjoys many sports and pop culture forms. Expect them to intrude upon his meanderings for It's Round and It's White.

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