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Liam Maguire, Goldie Goldthorpe and their book
There's Goldie Goldthorpe on the flower planter outside of the bar along Toronto's Queen Street West, but Goldie isn't in the bar. Odd. We were scheduled to meet for an interview on that sunny Monday afternoon. A text from his co-author on The Real Ogie! sends me out onto the street, towards another restaurant.
And there he is, unmistakable, shuffling along, still solid as a rock at age 65, though his huge blond Afro is merely a head of curly hair now. Lunch is done, and it's time for a beer, but the intended destination is closed.
No worries, the leader of this expedition, the equally colourful and loquacious Rob Sysak, executive director of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area, has a plan—back to the original bar where Goldie's mug was, ahem, planted on the stone base holding in the flowers. That night, game one of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blues and the Bruins, would have Goldie as a special guest, peddling books and making friends.
Both are things he does extremely well.
Just on the two-block walk from one locale to another, Goldie stops to open a door for a woman with a stroller and chats with a couple of other strangers. He talks with the worker assigned with putting his mug on the planter. Later, he befriends the sales rep from Goldschlager, and does an impromptu video promoting the liqueur.
In between, he polishes off a few drinks and answers a reporter's questions honestly but self-deprecatingly too. How about the process of writing the book, Goldie? “I don't know, I don't know how to spell ... ask Liam.”
The Liam in question is Liam Maguire, is a name well-known to hockey fans, from his books on hockey trivia, to his days as a radio host, or as a frequent guest on TSN's Off the Record. He had Goldie on his radio show, and made the decision to chase him and write Goldthorpe's life story. They met in Kingston, and got along famously. That resulted in a few more beers on a weekend with some of Goldie's pals, including Doug Gilmour. Maguire made his pitch. “We spent a weekend together drinking beers, and then on a Sunday, I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.' Dougie Gilmour, he gave me a lot of advice for the book, and here we are,” recalled Goldie.
“It all started very organically, really,” confirmed Maguire.
But Maguire will admit that he struggled more than he thought he would with the project. Writing trivia is different than an autobiography. He consulted with a few authors he knew, like Dan Robson, who'd worked with Gilmour on Killer: My Life In Hockey.
“I contacted Dan and a couple of other authors, and they suggested writing it in the first person, and I tried that, and it was horrific. I was butchering it and slogging through it. I got about 7,000 or 8,000 words and I phoned [Goldie], and I said, 'I hate it! I hate it.' And I threw it all out, and started again,” said Maguire. “I said, 'I'm just going to write it the way Liam Maguire would write it. I think I'm an okay writer, and I'm just going to write it the way I write it.' He said, 'Go ahead.' We just went from there. 'Whatever you don't like, we won't put in, and we'll just work on it together.' And away we went.”
The result is The Real Ogie! The Life and Legend of Goldie Goldthorpe, from Burnstown Publishing, and it includes a foreword by broadcaster Bob Costas. The book details Bill (William) Kenneth “Goldie, Wild Bill, Harpo” Goldthorpe—the inspiration for Ogie Oglethorpe in Slap Shot—from his youth in Hornepayne, Ontario, the youngest of five children, and son of a World War II hero, through his hockey career from midget and junior hockey, to the minor pro leagues, and the World Hockey Association, and into the senior leagues. There are a few fights along the way.
For all his charm and directness, Goldie is no braggart, especially about his pugnacious ways on the ice. “I never went around saying, 'I beat this guy, I beat that guy.' I just tell people, 'One day I was lucky, and the next day he might be luckier.'”
The author was there to add some zest to Goldthorpe's retellings. “I'm a raconteur, I'm Irish,” spun Maguire. “I feel like I can tell a story. His story tells itself, really. I really just had to put the words and get them in some sort of semblance of order, get an editor to spell right and make sure we're grammatically-correct, and go from there. We didn't really have to step too far outside the box. We decided very simplistically to keep it chronological; other than a few moving pieces in there, 98 per cent is chronological, and just let it roll.”
Maguire also has the media buddies and promotional wherewithal to get attention for the book and Goldie, from The Globe and Mail to radio stations in small towns where they are visiting. He's social media savvy to boot, meaning that Goldie doesn't have to Tweet or do Instagram posts, leaving that to Maguire. Coincidentally, Maguire happens to enjoy a pint or two as well. They make a good team, and, given the amount of time they have spent together so far heading from studio to studio, bar to bar, town to town, plugging their book, that's a good thing.
Goldthorpe said that he had a lot of memorabilia and clippings from his career, often things that others clipped for him and that he collected along the road. Ditto for the photos. Facts, though, were a little different. “When Liam wrote the book, I said, 'Everything has to be authentic, it can't be phony. So if I say something about somebody, you've got to phone the guy and check it out,'” recalled Goldthorpe, taking a break as the beer arrived—“I can barely lift this glass,” he joked. Maguire would hear a story or read a tale about Goldie, and they'd consult on what Goldthorpe recalled. More often than not, said Goldie, they deferred to the memory of the other player. “I'd say, 'Okay, maybe it might have did this way.' He'd say, 'Do you want to change it?' I'd say, 'I'll the respect to that guy, and I'll let him say it the way he wants to say it.'”
What Goldthorpe won't deny is the impact of Slap Shot on his life. Ogie Oglethorpe, played by the Ned Dowd, brother of screenwriter Nancy Dowd, is just one of many incredibly memorable characters from the 1977 film. “If there was no movie Slap Shot, we wouldn't be sitting here having a beer in West Queen West,” said Goldie. “Look what it did for the actors. All the actors in the movie, Paul D'Amato [Tim McCracken], Hanrahan [Christopher Murney], those guys are more remembered for the movie Slap Shot than all the movies they ever did."
Goldie Goldthorpe will continue to hit the road, to fan fests, hockey card shows, to bars, and now, to bookstores to sell The Real Ogie!, which is likely heading to a second printing as the initial run of 2,200 books is close to gone. “I know guys who scored 50 goals a year, nobody knows their name. I say, 'Olgie Ogilthorpe,' everybody knows.”
To order The Real Ogie! visit http://burnstownpublishing.com/product/the-real-ogie/
Goldie Goldthorpe on a planter in West Queen West, Toronto
HEADING INTO THE BUSY SEASON
The traditional time for hockey books to be published is in the fall, and this year is no exception, and it's time to look ahead now that the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions.
There's a Hall of Famer, in Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection (by Gunnar Nordstrom & Bob Duff, taking the initial Swedish version as a starting point), and a for sure Hall of Famer—Most Valuable: How Sidney Crosby Became the Best Player in Hockey’s Greatest Era and Changed the Game Forever (by Gare Joyce).
There are plenty of stories of overcoming adversity: Relentless: My Life in Hockey and the Power of Perseverance (Bryan Berard with Jim Lang) and Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life (Ed Olczyk with Perry Lefko), and No Days Off: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes and Journey to the NHL by Max Domi.
Sean Fitz-Gerald’s Before The Lights Go Out promises to explore how hockey in Canada is at a crisis point because of its high costs and exclusivity.
And, having met the terrifyingly-huge man, and featured him in my book Don't Call Me Goon (with Richard Kamchen), I'm personally looking forward to The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior by Stu Grimson. I'm pretty sure his book can beat up all the others.
If you know of other upcoming books—especially the lesser-known, self-published ones—be sure to drop me a line, and share it in the Facebook Hockey Books page (link to https://www.facebook.com/groups/1457086364574782) maintained by Todd Denault.
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