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A cult football figure, Vince Hilaire’s career spanned over 600 games and took in spells at Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Leeds United and Stoke City, playing in every professional division as well as for England at Youth and Under 21 levels.

Hilaire shared a dressing room with some of the stars of the era including Kenny Sansom, Mick Channon, Gordon Strachan and Vinnie Jones, and was managed by some of the biggest figures in British football – Malcolm Allison, Terry Venables, Alan Ball and Howard Wilkinson. This book offers a fascinating insight into the methods of these managers – Allison and Venables’ desperation to produce a side that rivalled the free-flowing football of the famous ‘Busby Babes’, contrasting with the dourness and rigidity of Wilkinson’s Leeds.

One of the first black players to break into the professional game, Vince made his professional debut at seventeen and was a member of the famous ‘Team of the ‘80s at Palace that topped the First Division table. He details exactly why that team fell apart so quickly and the chaos that subsequently engulfed the club. Vince also outlines the regular abuse that he faced as a young black player making his way in football and the dread he felt playing at certain grounds.

This massively entertaining autobiography gives a fascinating insight into the beautiful game as it used to be played.


A funny, emotive, and brutally honest insight into a cult figure at clubs from Palace to Pompey.

Dominic Fifield, The Guardian

I idolised Vinny. When the Daily Mail wrote a story in 1981 saying Vince was on the verge of leaving Palace for Arsenal, I told my parents: ‘If Vinny goes, I go.’ That was the admiration I had for him.

Neil Ashton, chief football writer at The Sun and host of Sky’s Sunday Supplement

Insights and anecdotes abound in this vivid account of a talented player’s life – from an era almost unrecognisable from the football we know today.

Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph
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  • Paperback, 400 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785903625
  • 1 March 2018
    Available to pre-order
  • £12.99

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  • ISBN: 9781785903762
  • 1 March 2018
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