Kevin McStay reckons that the "Blue Book" was an embarassment and it's difficult to argue with him on that: "as a handbook it had the potential to be of benefit but once it strayed into pyscho-babble and bouts of paranoia, it was on to a loser".
Some parts have been published apparently. The only bit I could get my eyes on was the instructions to players about the jobs they have to do whether they are defenders, midfielders or forwards (over on Laoistalk forum). Laying down expectations and the demands that are expected from each player. Fair enough.
But, where the "Blue Book" goes too far, and where the GAA in general is gets of itself is in copying from professional sports. Copying the best of professionalism. Nothing wrong with that. Not doing it right. That is the problem.
The Blue Book is a perfect example. It's based on the idea of the Black Book, which Clive, sorry Sir Clive (nearly forgot he's a subject, not a citizen) Woodward introduced to the England rugby team to prepare them to win the rugby world cup. Which you'll remember they did. So in this case the Black Book was universally acclaimed as a great idea. He dedicates a chapter to it in his book Winning! Except in the Black Book there was no creed, no nonsense and bullshit. Instead it was about setting standards, goals, objectives and a philosophy of play. It contained a Code of Conduct e.g. switching off mobile phones for team meetings and punctuality, information for players on policies and procedures, fitness testing, media and medical support etc etc.
Yes, there was some inspirational sayings and photographs. Afterall who reads books with no pictures? But none of the pyscho-babble that McStay describes is in the Blue Book. It was to prepare the players about practical matters.
Dublin's Blue Book in contrast, at a whopping 52 pages, sounds like a terrible ramble. I don't personally know any of the Dublin players, but if they are anything like any of the GAA teams I've played on a sheet of A4 would probably have done the job just as well.
What was in England's black book?
- Objectives for players, head coach and management.
- A code of conduct for everyone.
- Team policies and procedures.
- Notes about getting ready for an international match.
- A "Who's Who" of players, staff and officials.
- Information about the support teams: medical, technical, media, sponsorship.
- A schedule up to the World Cup.