My Autobiography : The Voice of Rugby Paperback
by Bill McLaren
Just before the start of the 2002 Wales v Scotland match in Cardiff, the stadium announcer asked people to stand and acknowledge Bill McLaren's great contribution to the sport.
The whole ground rose, leaving McLaren choking back the tears.
Then came a voice in his ear: 'Cue, Bill...' Coping with his emotions on that day was obviously not straightforward, even for a commentator of Bill McLaren's experience, used to being caught up in some of the most dramatic moments rugby has ever seen.
But Bill also talks frankly about the greatest tragedy of his life: the death of his younger daughter from cancer at 46, the three years of agony and the trauma of her final day.
Bill wanted to stay at her bedside but she insisted he go and carry out a commentating duty in Edinburgh on the Saturday afternoon.
He did so, rushed back to the hospital, but she had died that afternoon while he was on air.
McLaren, himself, had almost died of TB in his youth and he tells of the days and nights when he hid under the sheets in bed at the Scottish hospital where he was kept for 19 months, 'crying myself to sleep each night as they took away my friends who had died that day.
I was certain I would be next'. He has excellent memories of his war years and delves deep to recall some harrowing times as a forward observation spotter when he came within inches of being killed by a German sniper.
Later, he also remembers leading his men one day into a small northern Italian town where they discovered 1500 corpses piled up in the square. 'That was the day I became a man, rather quickly,' he says.
He was 21. As well reliving the highlights of his illustrious career as a commentator, Bill talks of the game today and his regrets that rugby went professional.
He is a fierce critic of what this has led to and fears for the future health and safety of rugby players because he regards the modern game as dangerously physical.
His story amounts to a history of the game itself and reaffirms McLaren's status as something of a global treasure.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages, col. Illustrations, ports. (chiefly col.)
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/11/2005
- Category: Autobiography: sport
- ISBN: 9780553815580
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by jigwagigiggs
A beautifully penned book which oozes all the likeable honest qualities of the voice of rugby for so long. Even his anti english-ness is done in a pleasant manner, and afterall as a scotsman he is genetically allowed that I suppose. A man who has seen probably everything he wanted to in life and after reading this book several things no man should have to see. How nice to read about a man who turned down a top job in favour of being with his family in the home town he so loved.One of the most uplifting books Ive read in recent times. I defy anyone to disagree with Bills slants on life in general or at least not be moved by his rigid adherance to traditional family values and. The chapter on his relationship with his dad on growing up should be compulsary for any expectant father, either willing or not on how important such a relationship is. As a new dad I found it stunningly accurate.The picture section of the book says much about the positivity of Bill as there is at least 5 footnotes on player pictures along the lines of "the best I ever saw". Surely there can only be one of those, but not in Bills world. I wonder whether a human being can still be this nice in the modern world. Lets hope his retirement is a long and enjoyable one