Back in November, I issued the following article which explains how I got the opportunity to write the biography of our 1980's striker Ian Baird. At the bottom, I have written an update.....
Those of you who know me and those of you who follow me on Twitter will be aware that I am in the process of writing an authorised biography of our 1980's legend Ian Baird. I thought it would be a good idea to give you the background behind the book and share my experience so far.
I have had an ambition for some time to write a players story but after contacting a couple of ex players and having discussions in the past, the chance never materialised. Then, one afternoon in April, I read an article about Ian Baird and decided to contact him. A chance email to the secretary of Eastleigh FC, where Ian was manager, was passed on to our ex front man and within a few days we were chatting about the possibilities of kick starting the project. At first, Bairdy thought it was a wind up but he soon warmed to the idea and gave me the go ahead the day before Leeds played their final game of the season at home to Leicester City.
The research was soon underway. I could recall lots of detail about Ian's two spells at Elland Road and bits and pieces before, in between and after, but knew little of his career once he'd left Middlesbrough.
I approached a few authors for advice, David Watkins, Gary Edwards and David Saffer were fantastic. They gave me help and encouragement, although at the same time, they warned me of a few pitfalls. The next step was to build a record of every game that Ian had played in. Date, opponent, score, attendance, line ups, scorers and substitutes. A painstaking process but one which was absolutely vital.
From these records I had the name of every player that Ian had played alongside and I began to try and make contact with as many as possible. That was the first thing that surprised me, how easy it was. Brendan Ormsby, John McClelland, Micky Adams, John Stiles and Bernie Slaven were among the players I spoke to in the early days and all of them were superb in their help.
From that point, many people have given me their views on Ian. Lawrie McMenemy, Joe Jordan, Peter Shilton, Bobby Davison, Mel Sterland, Gary Bennett, Gary Owers, Mick Leonard and John Robertson to name a few.
My first meeting with Ian himself was on the day that the European Championships started. Armed with laptop, notebook and voice recorder I made my way to London, very excited but also very nervous.
We agreed an approach and Ian began to tell me how he made the breakthrough at Southampton. This was a fantastic experience, sitting with a player I had idolised from the terraces of Elland Road listening to his stories and recollections. After several hours we brought the first meeting to a close, I had loads of info and loads more contacts.
So after several more meetings over the past few months, hundreds of phone calls and twice as many emails, I am well down the line. The book is coming together and I have publishers interested. We don't have a date yet for when the book will be on the shelves. I will be planning book launches in the towns and cities where Ian played his football, so please watch this space.
I suppose the hardest part initially was getting away from Ian's time at Leeds to concentrate on his time at other clubs, this is something I managed to do but admit, it wasn't easy. The majority of the clubs Ian served issued articles on their websites for fans to contact me with their memories of Bairdy and as a result of this, I have received some brilliant anecdotes.
If you have a particular memory of Ian and you haven't yet contacted me with it, please do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There have been times when I thought the project was dead in the water, I was warned that would happen, but it is proving to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As I have progressed, I have encountered more people who's advice and assistance has been more than appreciated. You know who you are if you're reading this.
The journey so far has produced many highlights but the one that stands out was a meeting in a hotel bar with Ian, Hayden Evans (the football agent and good friend of Ian's) and the one and only John Sheridan. Does it get any better?
I am sure that whoever you support, you will enjoy the book. Ian's certainly got a story to tell.
The book is very much on track for completion, further meetings have taken place with Ian and many more telephone conversations have been had with people in many walks of life, not just football, who've had the pleasure of being part of Ian's life.
This week, I have managed to secure a deal with a publisher and the book will be on the shelves in October of this year.
I wish to thank everybody who has contributed to the project, in particular, Jon Howe, Eddie Taylor, David Watkins and Mick Leonard. Your help, advice and input has been invaluable.
Also, I know how much Bairdy appreciates the support and best wishes he's received via his own Twitter account.
Please keep an eye on this website and Twitter for further updates which will inform you how you can pre-order signed copies of a book which I can promise will be worth reading.
Bairdy's gonna get ya!