“I read the book from cover to cover in one night and smiled all the way through it. The book is a must for any Blue, and gives a great insight into the pain and disappointment that comes in even greater doses than the glory. In fact I might just read it again!”
Joe Royle – former Everton player and manager
‘Making the Grade’ is about football, obviously, but for me, the book is about trauma, and a man trying to come to terms with a terrible event that scarred, informed and patterned the rest of his life. For most people who’ve been psychologically hurt, there’s one great childhood trauma that haunts the rest if their days. But even more than the football, I enjoyed the bigger story of the book, particularly Stan’s self-analysis of his family’s own relative poverty and the mass exodus to the area created by the slum clearances of L5 and L3.
There are some really poignant stories – Stan tells a tale of his handicapped brother being verbally abused by a group of local yobs and the reader gets a real visceral sense of justice being meted out when Stan batters the ringleader in the boxing ring. In another tale, Everton FC gives the apprentices a Christmas hamper and Stan’s mum has to ask the ‘posh’ neighbour next door about a mysterious ‘hard green vegetable’ which turns out to be an avocado pear; and there are many other nice touches and elements of semi-forgotten social history memories that help to drive the narrative and help us to understand Stan’s sense of missed opportunity and his evident still-simmering indignation of the events of 69-71.
‘Making the Grade’ is an indispensable book for anyone with an interest in football and/or the human condition. Buy it.
When Skies Are Grey – Everton fanzine
This is a wonderfully evocative, witty, thought-provoking and gritty trip down Memory Lane – one that every Evertonian and ‘nearly-but-didn’t-quite-make-it’ footballer will adore. Stan Osborne’s debut book captures a very special era in footballing history and his highly detailed ‘fly-on-the-wall’ insight into Everton’s title-winning season gives a unique perspective on a very special season – one that also underlines how different life is for today’s want-for-nothing footballing starlets.
“This book represents a very personal recollection of the most intense, challenging, inspiring and ultimately frustrating two years of my life. Even 40 years on, the memories are vivid and vibrant. I have portrayed a picture of what life could be like for an apprentice at a top club during the late 60s / early 70s and, even allowing for the passage of time, my book is an accurate reflection of a short episode in the history of a great football club. A history I am proud to say I was a small part of.”