Book Review: Shearer Wonderland

Shearer Wonderland, by Duncan Shearer with Paul Smith, is the autobiography of a true goalscoring legend at Aberdeen FC. On the week of its release, Aberdeen-Mad takes a look inside...


Scott Vernon scored four goals in four games last month, and it provoked some debate amongst Dons fans. "Have we found the new Duncan Shearer?" was the oft-repeated question, which firstly demonstrates how much the big striker is still held in the affections of Dandies, and secondly how there has not been a goalscorer of his ilk at the club since he departed for Inverness in 1997. The answer to the question is fairly simple though - there's only one Duncan Shearer, and it is the final two words of that famous Pittodrie chant that make up the title of the big man's autobiography.

Most Dons fans know that we signed a player who had a superb goalscoring record south of the border, but they may not be fully-aware of the unheard-of rise from Highland League football to Scotland caps that the powerful forward pursued. The fact that he only departed the non-league arena at the relatively late age of 21 makes his story aven more of fairytale, and it's a story of a life crafted mainly by graft.

In telling this tale, Shearer comes across as an amiable, down-to-earth character who shys away from self-aggrandisation or finger-pointing like so many footballers do in their autobiographies, but do not be fooled into thinking this is a bland life story smattered with tiresome heard-it-before anecdotes. In fact, in parts Duncan opens his heart up to tell us about the more tragic events in his life in a way that is shamelessly inspiring.

There are some elements that were long-forgotten to this reader - he was courted by Fergie at Aberdeen, for example - and some which were eye-opening, such as his Chelsea 'hooligan' story. But the meat of this book for most Dons-supporting readers is the recounting of his time as a player at Huddersfield Town, Swindon and, of course, at Pittodrie, where he became such a hero, particularly during those 'multiple-bridesmaid' seasons under Willie Miller. This was the most exciting, high-scoring, free-flowing Dons side in many fans' living memory, with Dunc part of a strike force that thoroughly merited that description, alongside big Mixu, Eoin Jess and Scott Booth.

There are other fascinating insights into the AFC of the mid-'90s and beyond, which is a delicate area in the club's history, with virtually all current Dons supporters convinced it all started to go wrong in the period that saw Shearer's final months as a player at Pittodrie; an age from which we have never recovered. Central to this part of the book is Duncan's own return to the club as assistant to Steve Paterson in what may be the low point of post-Fergie Aberdeen. This part of the book is disappointingly brief; packed with insights but short of revelations - although it helps to clarify some of the tittle-tattle that has become prevalent in the messageboard era... and much of it is true!

We as fans have strong opinions about our club, and Shearer doesn't hold back with his thoughts on a number of different subjects that have become forum-filling topics of debate. We are treated to Duncan's praise of club legend Willie Miller as a manager, however he has particularly candid views on Miller's treatment of our 'golden generation' youngsters Jess, Booth and Stephen Wright, and is plainly unconvinced about the role of a director of football at Pittodrie... Well he would, wouldn't he?

Overall, this is a cracking read and one of those rare things - a footballer's autobiography that is genuinely interesting, candid without being attention-seekingly shocking and moreover honest. And really, this should not be a surprise from a Dons player who could be the dictionary definition of honest pro.

Craig Stewart


Big Dunc is hosting a book signing at the Aberdeen Waterstone’s on Union Bridge between 10.30 and 11.30am this Saturday, 23rd October - plenty time to get down to Pittodrie after it's finished! - and it's free to get in.

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