New book evokes football memories

AN author whose book lifts the lid on life as an international footballer in the days before multi-million pound contracts and WAGs will be at a town centre book shop tomorrow (Saturday).

Chris Wescott, who lives in Eastbourne, will sign copies of his latest tome, Norman ‘Black Jake’ Uprichard, at Waterstones in Terminus Road between 10am and 2pm.

It is the 57-year-old’s seventh book, with a back catalogue which includes his debut offering The History of Cricket at the Saffrons, Eastbourne.

In it he reveals the exploits of the former Northern Ireland goalkeeper who got his unusual nickname after turning up for one game hitching a lift on the back of a coal truck.

Mr Uprichard, who was a crowd favourite at Portsmouth and had spells at both Arsenal and Swindon, grew up in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, where he was given a life ban from playing Gaelic football after being seen performing between the sticks on a local soccer pitch.

During his career he went head to head with some of the sport’s greats, including Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Johnny Haynes, while Spurs legend Danny Blanchflower was among his team-mates and friends.

His finest moments came when, despite nursing a broken hand, he helped repel Czechoslovakia and secure a World Cup quarter final spot for his country. In the same 1958 game, the ‘keeper needed two bottles of whisky poured on a damaged ankle.

Mr Uprichard finished his playing career in the non league game, before settling in nearby Hastings with his wife. Sadly, he passed away last year, but both Mr Uprichard and his family contributed to the book.

Norman ‘Black Jake’ Uprichard is available now, priced £14.99.