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...John Ludden speaks to Pride Of Manchester

John Ludden - Fields Of Fire


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  Honest John  

There are some fascinating stories in the book, but which match in particular did you find the most interesting?

"All of the final 18 were a pleasure to research, but the one most interesting and indeed the hardest to write involved the first chapter. ''The greatest story never told.'' The tale of a Dinamo Kiev captured en masse by the Germans in the Ukraine in 1942, and forced to partake in a series of ''friendlies'' for propaganda purposes. Ordered to lose they stand defiant and under threat of death they play to win. Sadly it all ends tragically when the Nazis lose patience and execute 8 of them. Based on a true incident, the facts are remarkably sketchy. I chose to write of the legend. Once my manuscript had gone in with the publishers, a book appeared in the shops pertaining to tell the ''defining'' story of what happened. Thus almost driving me nuts as this guy had gone over to the Ukraine and appeared to have cracked it. But who knows the truth ?. After reading his version I am still not sure.

On a lighter note United versus Bayern in 1999 was an absolute delight to write about. What better way to end, from the tragedy of Kiev, to the almost surreal happenings in Barcelona. Still don't know how we won that."


What's your favourite ever game?
United v Barcelona 1984

1984,European cup winners cup, quarter final. Manchester United v Barcelona. What a game! United were 2-0 down from the Nou Camp and all the critics were saying we had no chance of pulling back the deficit. The atmosphere inside Old Trafford that night was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The air was electric, people sat in the aisles, how they got in God knows. My all time favourite player, Maradona was playing for Barca, I do not think he stepped out of the center circle all evening.

    Anyway, 2 goals from Robson and one from Stapleton almost lifted the roof off the stadium. United went three up with still half an hour left to play. Barca had a left full back called Alberto who played as a winger and repeatedly flew down the wing below me, giving out collective heart attacks every time he crossed the half way line. United held on to win and Bryan Robson was carried off the pitch shoulder high by supporters. A great night. Sadly in the semi finals we met Juventus who put us out. What a team they were, Platini, Boniek, Rossi, A last minute goal from Rossi in Turin proved a killer.
  Honest John  

You go into great detail describing the games both historically and from the fans point of view. Where and how did you get all the research?

"Basically I am a footballing anorak!,And my huge selection of books and videos was sufficient for any research required. Also in later phases the internet helped, but basically books and videos was the main source."


Are you a full-time author?
John  Ludden with wife Christine

"I wish! Unfortunately no, I still work full time at Lloyd Worralls in Castlefields Hulme. But who knows, if thinks go well and I can convince my wife (easier said than done) it may well be an option in the near future. I hope so, but, as ever it comes down to the aged old problem of money. But im working on it!"

  Fields Of fire  

Which football authors do you admire?

"Without a doubt, Hugh Mcllvanney. In my opinion no other writer comes close to matching this guy. An absolute genius, and of course a big mate of Fergie, and the man who wrote his infamous book. Mcllvanney, like no other captures in print the words to describe games and players of which mere mortals can only dream of aspiring too. I should be so bloody lucky."


What is the best football book you have ever read?
All Played Out

"''All played out'' by Pete Davies. This is the inside story of the 1990 world cup. Davies travelled all over Italy with unlimited access to the England team. The result is an absolute masterpiece. Davies managed to upset every journalist who was there covering England. To this day his name is spat out with venom as he blew the lid on the English press pack and all that involved. Brilliant book, and I can read over and over."

  Honest John  

Can you remember your first ever game?

"My Dad took me to see United v Fc Porto, late seventies. United won 5-2 after going down 4-0 in the first leg. I remember they had a Brazilian centre forward called Duda. I can still hear the song ''Who put the ball in United's net , Duda Duda!'' In typical United fashion we almost pulled off a great comeback, only to score a couple of own goals. Jimmy Nicholl I think it was. That was Dave Sexton's team, I also remember one of my first games was against QPR. Stan Bowles took time off from the bookies to play, and while taking a corner down at the Stretford End, he started making faces at the crowd. When they started booing him Bowles put his fingers in his ears. Strange what you remember."


[back to page one] [click here to read the rest of our interview with John Ludden]

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