(Thursday 21st November 2002)
There's only one Simon GarnerSimon Garner has launched a stinging attack on ex-Wycombe Manager Alan Smith in his newly published autobiography entitled There's Only One Simon Garner. The former Blackburn Rovers hero spent close to two years with Wycombe but in stark contrast to Smith he remembers with affection the times under Martin O'Neill where he enjoyed what he describes as some of the best memories he had in the game.
The book dedicates an entire chapter to his time at Wycombe. Describing Wycombe he said "It was a family club with a great manager and the players were a fantastic bunch who lived and breathed football without any sense of ego." Garner clearly has great respect for Martin O'Neill, commenting "Martin's philosophy was to play to our strengths and not worry about our deficiencies - a dream to a player like me". Garner says that tactics were never part of O'Neill's make up but motivation was, adding "He (O'Neill) had an uncanny ability to understand the needs of individuals and slot them into the requirements of the team."
Garner, who is 43 on 23 November 2002, goes on to detail the joy of being involved in the Play-Off final victory over Preston North End in May 1994 and the following season where Wanderers just missed out on another Play-Off in the debut season in Division Two.
But the departure of O'Neill from Wycombe to Norwich in the summer of 1995 turned out to be a watershed point in Garner's professional career. Garner pays tribute to the Irishman in his book by saying "I owe him for rescuing my career, for giving me a chance to play the kind of football I'd always wanted to play in an atmosphere that just couldn't be beaten". Garner doesn't mince words when describing Smith and says "The whole place just lost its momentum from the minute he arrived". Garner was shunned by Smith and the former Palace Manager even suggested that he stopped smoking! It was treatment that Garner described as leaving a bad taste in the mouth, although he says he's not a bitter person by nature.
Garner saw the collapse of O'Neill's team and added "He changed the kit to resemble Crystal Palace. He made us train at Bisham Abbey where the facilties were good, expensive and coincidentally I'm sure where Smith had his tennis lessons. He presided over the worst attendance in the league history of the club looked on as the Wycombe board announced record losses."
According to Garner, Smith didn't even have the decency to inform him 'face-to-face' that he wasn't going to be kept on at the end of the 1995/96 season - instead leaving the task to the Club Secretary via a letter.
All in all an interesting read, albeit fairly short (just over 150 pages). Not surprisngly the book concentrates on his time at Blackburn Rovers but there's also a chapter on his short spell behind bars at the end of 1996 and his final days playing local football for Flackwell Heath. In true Garner style the book is not too sophisticated but one thing made clear is that his passion for playing football was imense along with the fags and the booze.

There's Only Simon Garner is published by The Parrs Wood Press and retails for 9.95. Click here to buy from

Also take a look at the recently launched Simon Garner website at

Simon Garner will also be signing copies of his book at Ottakar's Book Shop High Wycombe on Saturday 14th December between 10.30am and 11.30am. He will then be at Adams Park from around 1.30pm prior to the Wycombe v Port Vale game.

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