Following his death in September, Kevin Beattie's autobiography, ‘The Greatest Footballer England Never Had’, written by Rob Finch, has been reprinted. In this candid extract, the Carlisle-born legend recalls some of the tough times he faced after his premature retirement

After I had retired from the game, I was once arrested at Harwich ferry port. I hadn’t a clue what for and was subsequently taken to the police station and eventually charged with failing to pay an outstanding fine for two overdue library books from three years previously.

The library service had been sending reminders to an old address in Ipswich and as I had moved had never had the chance to respond. The books had been borrowed on a ticket that was in my name and it had been requested that I be prosecuted.

I explained why we hadn’t been in touch and it all seemed very heavy-handed.

I offered to settle the debt, but they didn’t want to know and I was eventually taken to court. It was waste of public money and I wondered if I hadn’t been an ex-footballer whether I would have suffered the same fate.

I was fined £25 and ordered to pay £10 in court costs. It made the newspapers and the whole charade was used as another chapter in the story of my so called fall from grace.

After it was all over, I did have a wry chuckle when I discovered one of the titles of the books in question. It was called “Indifferent Heroes” by Mary Hocking.

As if this scenario wasn’t enough, whilst I was in the process of moving, I had put most of my gear in storage with a friend who had a large farm. He kept my belongings in his barn which unfortunately one evening caught fire and I lost all of my possessions. Some of it was replaceable, but amongst the lost items were what was left of my trophies, caps and football memorabilia.

We had no insurance to claim on and the football items were irreplaceable anyway, as no amount of money could have made up for losing them. I was devastated and it really did seem like it was one thing after another.

I decided to throw myself into my new pub management job and try and forget about things. For a while everything was going well: I was also amongst people who had appreciated me for my football endeavours and so there was always a good atmosphere about the place.

With a pub constantly full of Ipswich Town supporters, trade was always excellent and so I had plenty to keep me occupied. However, everyone always wanted to buy me a drink. Where I had once drank to excess to escape the reality that my football career was over, I now drank to be sociable and to help keep the punters coming in. It could be argued that I might have displayed more willpower - however I won’t be the first manager of a pub to fall into this trap and I’m sure I won’t be the last.

You don’t realise what is happening at first, but my consumption of alcohol was steadily increasing. From the minute we opened the doors in the morning until we closed them on an evening, there was one customer after another and there was always someone who wanted a drink with me.

It would often go like this: someone would come in and he seems like a nice bloke and you are getting on well with him, you may well have made his day as he was a big fan of yours. Soon, he offers you a drink. It seems rude not to accept, besides, what harm is a drink going to do?

Before you know it, another customer joins you and then another. You are all having a good time and you know your income is dependent on keeping these people happy. One drink becomes two, which soon becomes three, and so on. Before long you have been drinking all day and are out of your mind.

Alternatively, you may have had one of those days when everything is going wrong. The delivery man is late, one of the beer pumps isn’t working, the cleaner doesn’t turn in for work. As the stress levels build, a punter comes in. You see a puzzled look on his face as he works out where he knows you from. Suddenly it dawns on him: “It’s Kevin Beattie, isn’t it?”

Before you have a chance to answer, he hits you with it: “You were a great footballer, it was such a tragedy that you had to pack in so early.” You know he means well, but his innocent remark has sent you over the edge. The solution to take the edge of things is right before your eyes and again you hit the bottle.

If I was feeling down and wanted to feel better, or if I was feeling good and wanted to celebrate, I was surrounded by alcohol and had 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to it, 365 days a year. At first I drank pints of lager but after a while I found I couldn’t keep downing them as they made me feel bloated.

So, I started drinking hard liquor and vodka was my tipple - unfortunately after a time it became more than that, it also became my God.

Following Kevin’s untimely passing, a limited amount of books have been reprinted. For more information on purchasing a copy please contact Rob Finch at

The book is priced £14.99. Mention The Cumberland News and Rob will donate the postage costs to the British Heart Foundation - the charity Kevin’s family have asked people to support since his death on September 16.