Fair play to the lad, obviously
FICTION:Roy Keane’s Labrador is nearly as famous as her master – and she plays a highly entertaining game
Triggs: The Autobiography of Roy Keane’s Dog By Paul Howard Hachette Books Ireland, 392pp. £13.99
ONE OF THE WORST things about getting older is that bits of you work less well than they should or than you might like them to. It begins to define your life. So it’s not exactly ideal when you wake up one morning to see your death emblazoned across the front pages of the tabloids, even if those reports are premature and therefore plainly wrong.
This was the situation that greeted Triggs in the not too distant past. Triggs is Roy Keane’s walker and, as a close associate of Roy’s, a creature keen on rigour and the truth. Oh, and Triggs is a dog. And a bit of a hypochondriac, so death stories are even more unwelcome.
Triggs has just published an autobiography, and it is as fascinating as it is funny and moving. It sets out to dispel many inaccuracies. For example, Triggs is female: yup, she’s a she, not a he, in spite of what most people think. Yes, she does cock her leg to pee, but there’s a reason for that, and she reveals it. Far from being any old mutt – she’s a Labrador, actually – she can read a game of football like a master, although it was not always so. As a pup she preferred documentaries on the History Channel to matches, but once her interest in football was aroused she never looked back. Her understanding of historical battle tactics as a result of her puphood viewing stood to her and Roy throughout his career. Her knowledge of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, in the Korean War, is just one case in point. When Triggs explained this battle to Roy, he declared that there was “no excuse for bad planning”, and you might say that was a feature of his gripes with clubs and country down the years.
She describes beautifully, and with much love, Roy’s voice rising in tone and pitch as he gets more and more uptight about something, his random use of “obviously”, “as I’ve said in the past” and “fair play to the lad” – even, at one point, mentioning “the lad, Zedong”, and, er, that would be Mao Zedong – all the while influencing how his team-mates speak. When Triggs relates proceedings at team meetings called by Alex Ferguson for his players to let off steam, they’re all speaking in Roy parlance – and it is, frankly, hilarious.
She has always been a keen judge of personality and is, as she says herself, “a bitch”. She tells tales of Beckham, the Neville brothers, Wayne Rooney, Alex Ferguson and Dwight Yorke and, at times, has had to remove the names of others on legal advice. Although not an aggressive dog, she has always had a terror of the baby-faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that no one can quite explain, least of all herself.