Trueman biography reveals real story of 'the finest bloody fast bowler that ever drew breath'

Fred Trueman’s memorable contention that he was ‘the finest bloody fast bowler that ever drew breath’ was made tongue-in-cheek by the great Yorkshire and England cricketer but to his army of admirers in the 1950s and 60s it was a boast he would have been quite entitled to make.

The quotation found its way into cricket folklore 40 years ago after John Arlott wrote Fred: Portrait of a Fast Bowler.  Trueman, taking the view, one imagines, that ‘fast bowler’ was hardly an adequate description, jokingly suggested that his version would have done a better job.

Yet serious or otherwise, the phrase rang true and still does with many Yorkshire supporters, who should seek out the new portrait just published by Aurum Press.

Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography is the product of long and painstaking research by Chris Waters, the cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post, who sought to look beyond the brash, Jack-the-lad image that Trueman was once happy to live up to and find the truth.

It was something even Arlott, for all his perceptiveness, did not quite manage.  His book, while recognising some of the complexities of the real Trueman, was largely concerned with his playing career.

Waters, driven by journalistic curiosity, delved deeper into Trueman’s childhood and looked more closely at his life away from the cricket field, talking to scores of colleagues, relatives and acquaintances within and beyond the game to paint a picture of his character and what shaped it.

It describes the extraordinary circumstances into which Trueman was born, for example, and debunks the myth that Fred was a fearsome drinker, revealing too that while his conduct during his first marriage was far from saintly he was, behind the façade, an emotionally vulnerable man whose marriage to his widow, Veronica, is said by some friends to have saved his life.

For those interested to learn more, the Yorkshire Post has  been running some fascinating edited extracts in a three-part series.

Earlier this year, The Sports Bookshelf carried an exclusive interview with Chris Waters about the writing of his book, which you can read here.

Buy Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography direct from Amazon.

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