Tommy Lawton is England’s greatest goalscorer. His record of 44 goals in 43 internationals is unsurpassed and in all he scored an astonishing 635 goals in his 731 game career playing for Burnley, Everton, Chelsea, Notts County, Brentford and Arsenal. Tall, handsome and as stong as an ox he was a national treasure and a true Boy’s Own hero.
But by the 70s Tommy’s life was in ruins. Bankrupt, drinking heavily and on the dole after a succession of failed managerial posts and business ventures, the famous football legend faced jail after numerous court appearances. Withdrawn, depressed and out of love with football and life he came close to ending it all.
In “Get In There!” – which Lawton would famously shout as the ball hit the back of the net from one of his bullet headers – his great friend, former Nottingham Evening Post editor, Barrie Williams, and his son, Tom Lawton Junior, have pieced together an exclusively personal account of Tommy Lawton’s extraordinary life.
Packed with wonderful memories and anecdotes, the book brings the story of Tommy Lawton, the footballer, to life: the poor working class background, the emerging talent, playing for Burnley aged 16, signing for Everton and practising headers for hours with the great Dixie Dean, starring in England’s greatest ever attack with Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen.
It also tells the moving, human story of Tommy Lawton, the man: how the idolised star’s life descended into a cruel morass of debt, poverty, drink, shame and scandal before a chance encounter put him back on top, where he belonged.
Beyond Tommy, the book encapsulates a footballing heyday when the stadiums were packed with working men straight from the factories and the players earned just a few pounds a week, smoked cigarettes at half-time and went on holiday to Blackpool if they were lucky.
“Get In There!” is a fitting and very personal tribute to the great Tommy Lawton by two of the people who knew him best and a breautifully written trip down football’s memory lane.
Tommy Lawton scored an unprecedented 44 goals in 43 international matches for England (including wartime internationals). He also represented Great Britain versus Europe in 1947.
Duncan Hamilton, William Hill Sports Book of the Year Winner, 2009 and 2007
“Compelling, poignant, beautifully told – a truly fantastic and very human story of sudden fame, a ruinous fall and tender redemption that is achingly sad but ultimately uplifting. Anyone who loves the game will find it irresistible. And every Premiership footballer ought to read it and count his blessings.”
“This new book on Lawton, co-written by his son (also Tom) and Barrie Williams, former editor of the Nottingham Evening Post and close friend throughout Tommy’s later years, is at once a thrilling re-enactment of those glory years and an unblinking portrayal of a warm, trusting and generous man, but one with faultlines in his character that led to his fall from grace.
Like Gascoigne, Best and a host of other great stars, football ate Lawton up and spat him out. But there is a moving and uplifting finale to the book. At the very lowest point in his life, people remembered him, money was raised to clear his debts and he found himself in demand writing about the sport he loved.
This is a terrific book that must contain glue on the cover – I really could not put it down until I had relished every page. Having been brought up in a family where every modern footballer was compared to Lawton or Swift, Matthews or Finney, I loved the romance of the matches described – often in Tommy’s own words, taken from an earlier autobiography and interwoven with match reports of the time.
The title? That was Tommy Lawton’s memorable saying as yet another rocket-powered shot or header made the netting billow. If you, or someone you love, enjoyed football before players started diving, wearing carpet slippers for boots or driving around in Bentleys, this is the book you have to buy for Christmas.”
“Williams Brings to the book a passion for football and a personal involvement… Tom Jnr brings a son’s love and the subtle understanding that only a family insider can offer. Together they have produced a superb biography.”
When Saturday Comes
“Entertaining, evocative and moving.”
“Lawton’s wartime efforts form a small part of a remarkable book that well and truly captures football in its good old days. Williams and fellow writer Tom Lawton Junior have brought a forgotten legend hurtling back to life. Get In There! comes highly recommended to anyone who is fed up with a contemporary game littered with WAGs, Bentleys and out of control egos and offers a wonderful reminiscence of football’s halycon era.”
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