Friday, July 28, 2006


Don Mullan is the author of Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, a book critical in reopening the British government's inquiry (over 25 years later) into what became known as Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday was January 30, 1972, a day when thirteen civilians were killed by British soldiers during a civil rights march in North Ireland.

Paul Greengrass, perhaps better known to Americans as the director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and United 93 (2006), made a fine film (co-produced by Mullan) titled Bloody Sunday (2002) about those events.

Don Mullan's latest book is Gordon Banks: A Hero Who Could Fly. He described to the Guardian what the book is about and what it means to him.
Of the books I have written, compiled and edited, the one I enjoyed most is my latest book--part-memoir, part-eulogy--on the great England goalkeeper, Gordon Banks. The book is a heartfelt expression of gratitude from an Irishman for his English boyhood hero. As a dyslexic boy I thought I was stupid, but after seeing Banks play for England in the 1966 World Cup final he became my inspiration. In 1970, just a few weeks after he became a global icon after his save against Pelé in Mexico, my father magically arranged for me to meet him while he was on a pre-season tour of Ireland. In my book I write: 'Throughout my adult life, I have had the opportunity to meet many notable personalities of the 20th century ... but nothing, absolutely nothing, other than an audience with God, will ever surpass the pure joy my father gave me as a boy, the day we met Gordon Banks.' And it's true!"
Mullan came up with ten books by or about other heroes of his; here are a couple of them:

Quiet Strength by Rosa Parks

I interviewed Rosa Parks in June 1998. En route, at JFK airport, a friendly black TWA duty manager asked me if I was traveling to Detroit on business. When I told her I was going to interview Rosa Parks she took my boarding pass, asked me to wait, and returned a few minutes later with a first class ticket. "If you're going to see Ms. Parks," she said, "We've got to take care of you." Next day, Ms. Parks smiled when I related how her refusal to give up her Montgomery bus seat in 1955 had led, 43 years later, to a black woman offering a first class seat to a foreign white man traveling on a US commercial airline. Quiet Strength is Rosa Parks' inspiring memoir of how her faith, hope and charity inspired her with the courage to confront American racism and set in motion a chain of events that brought Martin Luther King Jr. to the fore and changed a nation--indeed, the world. Rosa Parks, who passed away in October 2005, was a humble woman who altered history.

Pelé - The Autobiography

I saw Pelé from a distance recently in a Dublin bookshop, signing his autobiography. Crowds had gathered through the night to see him; I smiled when I read the promotional poster: 'GOD is a four letter word--Pelé!" and
thought, "If Pelé is the god of footballers then Gordon Banks is the god of goalkeepers." Pelé was the hero of my best friend, Shaunie, who died in 1976, aged 21, in a car crash. We spent many happy days kicking and catching a ball as our alter egos. I'm currently involved in building a monument to Banks' save against Pelé outside Stoke City's Britannia Stadium and, I hope, Pelé himself will come to unveil it. In the days before commercialism contaminated the game, Stoke City's most successful manager, Tony
Waddington, referred to soccer as "the working man's ballet'. I'll drink to that.

Mullan's other heroes include Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, as well as a few interesting surprises. Click here to read the whole list.

--Marshal Zeringue