Ian Redford: A tragic end to a tragic life for the Scottish footballer only weeks after telling his harrowing story

Ian Herbert wrote a moving column in The Independent the other day reflecting on the life and premature death of the footballer Ian Redford, who played for six clubs in Scotland and, in England, for Ipswich Town.  He made more than 200 appearances for Rangers and scored the winning goal for Dundee United against Borussia Monchengladbach in the semi final of the Uefa Cup semi final in 1987.

Redford, who struggled with depression after the end of his playing career, was found dead in a woodland area near his home in Irvine, Ayrshire, in January this year.  He was 53.

Last autumn, his autobiography, entitled Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, was published by Black and White Publishing, a Scottish publisher specialising in books about Scotland or Scottish people.  He had written every word himself.

The first draft, he recalled in his introduction, ran to more than 200,000 words, such was his drive to set down every detail. It was, he said, an enormously cathartic process, enabling him to express in words many of the feelings until then he had been inclined to suppress.

It was in places a pretty harrowing tale.  Redford's life, in many ways, was been a triumph in the face of adversity.  Born with a genetic defect that rendered him completely deaf in one ear while still a small child and with a level of hearing in the other that declined as he grew older, he was warned to avoid contact sports for fear of making his condition worse.

He ignored the advice and against the odds was able to forge a pretty successful career, despite his handicap.  He was never able to participate fully in the dressing room banter that is often key to being accepted into a team. On the field, where keen hearing is not so vital as good vision but an important tool nonetheless, he had to work particularly hard.

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If that were not enough, Redford carried with him the indelible memory of a childhood tragedy, having lost his younger brother, Douglas, to leukemia.  Ian was only 12 at the time, his grief made all the more difficult to bear because his parents had always kept from him the full seriousness of his brother's illness.  It shattered what might have been an idyllic upbringing on the family farm in Perth.

In his book, Redford was clear that the guilt, anger and sense of betrayal he suffered contributed to the dark days later in life when he battled against depression and struggled to keep a drink problem under control.

Yet, after a period working as a players' agent and playing some golf, he seemed to be settled into a new life organising fishing and shooting holidays in Scotland.  He was married with three children, one of whom, also called Ian, plays golf professionally.

It was hoped that giving voice to his feelings about all that had happened to him in his book, published only a few weeks before his death, would have helped him sustain his apparent recovery.  Sadly, this seems not to have been the case.

Read Ian Herbert's column from The Independent

Buy Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head: My Autobiography, by Ian Redford, from Amazon, Waterstones or WHSmith.


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