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by Paul Howard
"...David James is considered an intellect because he begins sentences with the word 'ironically' instead of the word 'obviously'.... I've never heard David James use the word 'ironically' in its correct context. Is that an irony in and of itself? I don't know but certainly don't ask him!"
"... as that great intellectual and noted wit John Terry would no doubt have it - a Catch-52 situation."
"...he [Keane] telephoned Wayne Rooney at home ... 'Can you call me back later?' Wayne asked him. 'It's just I'm reading at the moment.' I remember the surprised smile that was suddenly slashed across Roy's face. 'What are you reading? he wondered, always happy to hear about a teammate making and effort to improve his mind. 'Ceefax' came the reply."
Of course Triggs was bound to have a positive view of Keane as she was unlikely to slag off the mind, not to mention feet, that fed her. But it was much more than that if we can believe Triggs view of their relationship. There was a mutual respect between them and Keane frequently sought out and relied upon, the views of his faithful canine. Triggs even claimed that it was her influence that led to Keane, and indeed Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, taking up yoga.
"Like footballers Labradors are prone to joint trouble. In fact, it was watching me perform my thrice daily routine of leg and back extensions that sold Roy on the idea of yoga as a means of prolonging his career."
Oh yes, Triggs was much more than a pet, she was a friend, a walking companion, a confidant, a raconteur, a fountain of wisdom, an avid TV watcher, a tactician, and she had Keane's favourite quality - she "didn't talk s**t". However, it must have come as something of a shock to Keane to learn that Triggs actually "...liked Mick McCarthy." He must have viewed her as treacherous Triggs, not only that she would think such a thought but also that she would reveal it to the World in her autobiography.
Triggs reveals this in a wonderful chapter that deals with the meeting between Mick McCarthy and Keane ahead of the the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. A meeting that was instigated by Keane and was meant to be an air-clearing effort that would pave the way for a successful campaign.
Following the exchange Triggs tells us that Keane thought the meeting "...went okay." Triggs had a different view: "The meeting went horribly. But he couldn't have know that. He wasn't a dog ... Only another dog could know the sense of uneasiness that hardened like a lead ball inside me ... with the issue of dominance and submission left unresolved. It wasn't over. That much I knew for certain."
The train that was travelling toward the confrontation that would become known as the Saipan Incident remained very much on track.
In her autobiography Triggs makes it clear that she didn't want Roy Keane to take part in the 2002 World Cup. Not only did she know that the issues between the the two alpha males, that were Keane and McCarthy, had not been resolved, she also didn't fancy the idea of being separated from her master for such a long period of time.
Obviously Triggs couldn't throw any first-hand light on what actually happened in Saipan, as she wasn't present, but her analysis of why things played out the way they did bear a striking correlation with my own conclusions about the Saipan affair. In reference to the infamous Keane/Humphries interview Triggs had this to say:
"Well knowing Roy as I did, my guess is that he was furious with himself for changing his mind about going home. So he did the interview ... doing so he was asking the manager to make the decision for him - to put him out of his misery ... three years later, when he left Manchester United, wasn't his modus operandi the same? A furious row at training over his perceived slackness of the operations, followed by an interview with the media that implied criticism of the manager, followed by an argument with the manager, followed by banishment by mutual agreement."
Paul Howard's book Triggs is a very clever and a hugely entertaining read. Filled with humour it offers an interesting take on the truly enigmatic Roy Keane, perhaps the greatest Irish footballer there has ever been. Many of the significant events in Keane's career, that overlapped with Triggs time with him, are presented through a canine prism. While the book is full of humour, there are also moments when it exudes pathos and is somewhat poignant and this all contributes to overall attraction of the book.
The book is also full of facts and trivia. For instance did you know that some female dogs (including Triggs) cock their legs to urinate but only if they have been "... raised alongside a particularly strong alpha." And we got an insight into where Keane might have found some of those quotations that he was prone to uttering in Saipan. Do you remember "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail." or "What goes with the flow?'. 'Dead fish." ? According to Triggs, Keane had received the Encarta Dictionary of Quotations as a Christmas gift.
Finally, Triggs has cleared up a matter that has frustratingly eluded me throughout all of the research that I conducted for my Saipan thesis: Why would Keane demand that McCarthy attempt the anatomically impossible i.e. "Stick your World Cup up your boll**ks"? Now I know the answer. Thanks Triggs.
Triggs: The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog - Highly recommended - and not just for football fans or dog lovers.
PS: I wonder who should play Triggs in the stage version?
Paul Howard is a former Irish sports Journalist of the Year, a two-time Irish Book Award winner and creator of the cult character, Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. He has written several non-fiction books, including The Joy, an account of life in Mountjoy Prison, The Gaffers: Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and the Team they Built, an account of the McCarthyKeane clash during the run-up to the 2002 World Cup. He also co-authored Steve Collins' "autobiography", Celtic Warrior.
In the Autumn of 2010, after a newspaper incorrectly reported the dog's death, he contacted Triggs through a third party and persuaded her to tell the story of the life she spent with football's most compelling and misunderstood figure.
Triggs: The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
Irish Soccer Split
Keane : The Autobiography
Off Centre Circle
The Team That Jack Built
Who Stole Our Game
1,000 Celtic Quotes, Notes and Anecdotes
Gaffers: 50 Years of Irish Football Managers
Triggs: : The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
Irish Devils: The Official Story of Manchester United and the Irish
Dave Langan: Running Through Walls
The Rocky Road
Blood Sweat and McAteer
Kicking Through The Troubles