The Martin Dobson Column

FOOTBALLERS wives get a raw deal. Or do they?

All the acclaim, attention and hero worship surround their superstar husbands. People clamour for autographs and pictures, they make requests for personal appearances, TV, radio and media interviews.

Even invitations for the odd modelling assignment have been known.

No end to the intrusions or just part of the job?

But what about the better half who picks up the pieces, holds everything together and gets on with the mundane things in life. The school run, children's lunch boxes, frozen pipes and the broken boiler?

Where does it leave her career? And where does it stack up in the lists of priorities?

Somebody decided to find out.

The launch of a new book, 'Real Footballers Wives- the First Ladies of Everton', priced £9.99, was held at Goodison Park and I asked author Becky Tallentire where the idea came from.

"I kind of did it by mistake," said Becky.

"It all started when I rang Alex Young to see if he would autograph something for a children's charity.

"His wife, Nancy, answered and we got talking. I asked her how they met and I couldn't understand why I didn't know anything about her.

"I knew everything about her husband, 'The Golden Vision', his career was well documented, but I didn't know anything about the person who was 'the real eye witness'.

"It was a Saturday night and I couldn't believe why I hadn't thought of the idea before. So I wrote down 30 questions, rang her back and we had a fabulous chat.

"All kind of things came out. 'Couldn't marry on a Saturday, the babies arrived at the wrong time' - that kind of thing.

"After we'd finished she told me I had to speak to her best friend, Nancy Vernon, wife of Roy. It went from there.

"When I rang Brenda Thomas, wife of ex-Burnley favourite Dave, she was chuffed to bits. 'I've been waiting 20 years for this phone call', she said."

The nocturnal habits of some modern professional footballers have been well documented in the popular press but after reading extracts from the book, I would suggest they differed greatly from their predecessors.

In the book Nancy Young recalls.

"Some nights Alex would relive the matches in his sleep. I could feel him starting the game, with the odd twitch now and then and it would progress to a full-blooded kicking of an imaginary ball - but of course it was the back of my legs!

"I remember one night he stood up on the bed and was scrambling around on the wall behind the headboard. The next morning he said he was dreaming he'd scored and got tangled up in the net trying to get the ball back!"

Brenda Thomas recalls her night time experience.

"Dave was difficult to live with from Thursday onwards as the mental preparation kicked in and he started getting focused for the match," she revealed.

"One night he knocked out my front tooth with a flailing limb and I had to get it crowned."

And Janet Royle, wife of Joe, was awakened by a rather unusual request.

"Joe couldn't sleep after games. He was so exhausted and kept tossing and turning.

"One night he taps me on the shoulder and says 'What position do you play?' For years he would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to take the dog out running. As the dog got older, it saw him coming and cowered in the corner."

Tony Kay's wife, Marina, tells of a darker chapter in their lives.

Tony had joined Everton in 1962 for a record £55,000 deal and won a Championship medal five months later. Along with team-mates David 'Bronco' Layne and Peter Swan, he was found guilty on charges of 'conspiracy to defraud' for his part in a betting scandal while he was a player with Sheffield Wednesday.

All three were jailed for four months, fined £150 and banned from professional football for life.

Marina takes up the story.

"Tony was in the open prison, Thorp Arch in Wetherby, near Leeds. He didn't look too well when I visited him, so I decided to cook him a steak next time and take it with me," she said.

"I wanted to keep it warm so I rolled it up and squeezed it into a thermos flask. But when I got there I couldn't get it out. There's Tony salivating at the mouth and there's me poking around the flask.

"We didn't know whether to laugh or cry."

So what made me rant and rave?

To find out why I got stressed out maybe it's worth getting a copy and read what mu wife, Carole, had to say.

One night Dave knocked out my front tooth with a flailing limb