Book review – Bobby Windsor: The Iron Duke
Remember Blackadder’s description of the magnum opus he wrote under a pseudonym? “A giant roller coaster of a novel in 400 sizzling chapters… with some hot gypsies thrown in.” Well, Peter Jackson pulls off a similar trick with this compelling autobiography of Pontypool, Wales and Lions great Bobby Windsor, writes Rugby World deputy editor Alan Pearey.
Jackson’s books have it all – funny stories, startling stats, strong views – and in the life and times of Windsor he has alighted on a heart-breaking subject.
Windsor’s first wife died from cancer at 33 and when his second wife walked out, soon after Windsor learnt he had prostate cancer, he couldn’t cope. The chapter describing his state of mind in 2006, the year in which he took 100 paracetamol tablets and a bottle of water to a caravan park in Tenby in a foiled suicide bid, will bring tears to your eyes.
There is a happy ending and this “loveable rogue”, as Fran Cotton calls him, deserves nothing less. Much of his life has been spent on the breadline – his strongest childhood memory is of being hungry – and even being a famous sportsman was no guarantee of a job.
On the field Windsor was a hard-as-nails scrummaging hooker who bore the brunt of French brutality without complaint. Yet when Rugby World drew up a shortlist of the greatest players of the 1970s, he failed to make the cut.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear it was a monumental blunder. When a man as respected as Ray Prosser calls Windsor “the best front-row forward I ever saw, head and shoulders above the rest”, then no more testimony is required.
RW RATING 5/5
BUY IT FROM: Amazon RRP: £16.99 PUBLISHED BY: Mainstream
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This article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Rugby World.
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