Hands On Hearts: A Physio's Tale
Updated Thursday, 3rd November 2011
I told you about this book the other week and I met the author last night. A few of his chums were there to hear him remember his time and recall some of the tales from 23 years working with Hearts
I spent last night on the company of several ex-Heart players in what was a convivial couple of hours where they gathered to help Alan Rae launch his book 'Hands on Hearts; A Physio's Tale' looking back at his 23 years involved in getting players back where they belong; on the pitch playing for the club. The book, written in conjunction with Paul Kiddie, covers an interesting period in the Tynecastle club's history. From the brink of possible collapse to the arrival of Vladimir Romanov, most fans of football will find something of interest in the book as the insight into what went on behind closed doors in Gorgie could well be echoed in most clubs across the country.
While we fans can sometimes put players on pedestals as they play where we would love to be, physio Rae was there to see them grow up in a playing and real life sense. He saw fit young men at their lowest, injured and hoping against hope that he would be able to get them back in contention for a place in the first team as soon as possible. It was not just his healing hands that helped the recovery process but also his sage advice and occasional admonishment of the wide boys that earned the respect of all those who attended last night. The book is full of tales of players and how they reacted to success and failure over the two decades Rae was behind the scenes. Of course, chairmen and managers were not missed by Rae's eagle eyes and ears. He tells of how Alex McDonald reminded him that he was not there to offer opinions on how the team should play but to focus on getting the players ready for his plans while retaining the respect for the man. The section on team bonding sessions introduced by coach Tam Forsyth, who arrived when Tommy McLean was manager, is a hoot and a must read.
Looking back on the process of writing and his time with Hearts Rae said: "A lot of the work was left on the cutting room floor as it was not quite politically correct or didn't make up a coherent chapter. While anecdotes are fine, you have to build a chapter round them. If the chapter is weak it has to be excised. I worked with an editor called Jenny Renton for about 40 hours who worked with me to re-order the text and suggest sections which could be strengthened. The book did not end up the way I envisaged but it did give me some sort of closure with Hearts. You are involved practically seven days a week for 48 weeks of the year; it's a hard shift and it leaves a mark. I used to wake up at two o'clock in the morning, churning over events; could I have done better; could I have done it a different way. I found it more stressful to work with some managers than others. Some tried to get players fit without our help while others were more sympathetic to our work. It was easy with Alex McDonald, Jim Jefferies and Sandy Clark, who had served his time with Alex McDonald so had the same sort of approach, were more forgiving of the rehabilitation process. But others did not fully appreciate what was required which made it more stressful. I no longer wake up sceaming any more."
When asked what he felt he contributed to the club's success, Rae wanted to play down his role saying: "I like to think I was just one of these guys who moved them (players) from one milestone to another and introduced the ideas of the time into the rehab process whereas, since I left, other ideas have come in and basically I have had my time. I quit at the right time, I have no doubts about that and no regrets either, it was time to go. I had seen things changing and not the way I would like them to change. When you are in that situation it is better to jump ship than get the heave. I didn't exactly jump ship as I gave the club three months notice of my intention to leave. I left under my control."
Rae's timing with words and asides during the launch made me think he could carve out another career on the after-dinner speaker circuit. If he does, make sure you book a seat. He is worth listening to as many Hearts players will confirm.
'Hands on Hearts: A Physio's Tale' by Alan Rae with Paul Kiddie is published by Lauth Press Limited and is available in all good book shops now at the bargain price of £14.99.
A copy signed by the author and ex-players can be won by the first one out of the hat who can identify those in the picture above. I will let you off if you do not recognise Paul Kiddie and Alan Rae:-). Email answers to email@example.com. Good luck