'Not Such A Bad Life: Burnley Gazza, Wrighty, Waddle and Me' a player's moving story of triumph over adversity| Dave Thomas
'Not Such A Bad Life: Burnley Gazza, Wrighty, Waddle and Me' is Paul Weller s story of triumph over adversity, colitis to be precise.
It’s a horrible illness, often known as the ‘silent illness’ because sufferers are so often reluctant to talk about it.
It knocked Paul out for more than a year and involved three operations before he regained fitness and won a shed load of supporters' awards in his best ever season.
It isn’t a story of money and glamour; there’s not much glamour at Grimsby when you lose 6-5 or after a home game you lose 7-4. There was never much glamour at Gawthorpe back in the days when it was a mudbath for half the year.
So, Paul’s is a story of someone who never hit the headlines or retired with a fortune in the bank, in fact quite the opposite, so that in preparation for finishing, he downsized his house.
Steve Cotterill decided he was of no further use, and then very short spells at Rochdale and Carlisle, convinced him that it was all over.
It’s a story too, of misguided loyalty, when he played on in his final season, desperately in need of surgery; but to help the club when money was too tight to mention, delayed the essential operation that would have lengthened his career.
And then Stan Ternent was dismissed before he could sort out the new contract that they had talked about. Such is the fate of a footballer when your future is in the hands of other people.
A new contract, the badly needed operation, get fit again and carry on at Turf Moor. But it was just not to be.
Eventually, after several months, all ended well with new roles at Burnley and then Bury; then after leaving there moving to the car dealership at Colne that became W18.
He’ll always say it wasn’t such a bad life, and has adopted the north as his home. He played over 250
games, despite the lengthy illness, worked with Jimmy Mullen, Adrian Heath, Chris Waddle and Stan Ternent and has stories about all of them.
He played alongside Ian Wright and Gazza, Glen Little and Robbie Blake and has a fund of stories
about all of them. Glen Little once came to see him in hospital but when Paul showed him the stoma after the operation, Glen passed out. The consultant actually told Paul it would be possible to play even if he had to wear a colostomy bag. Simply take it off, plug the hole, and play as normal.
'You are joking.' thought Paul, but fortunately, the three operations were a success.
So: it’s a book filled with stories, goals, good times, bad times, successes and failures, but above all great memories of a football life he would not swap for any other.
* Not Such A Bad Life: Burnley Gazza, Wrighty, Waddle and Me is out on April 12th by Pitch Publishing, priced at £19.99. If you order direct from Paul, the proceeds go towards the Gary Parkinson Trust. You’ll find him on twitter @PaulWeller18.