Monday, November 3, 2008

The best things to have happened with The Bromley Boys

1. Being the bestseller in Waterstone's Bromley.
2. Getting a review which began: "Nothing has been as good as Fever Pitch. Until now."
3. The Yorkshire Evening Post saying that it was one of "the very best books with a sporting theme".
4. Getting a cover quote from Harry Pearson.
5. Being asked for my autograph and pretending it happened all the time.
6. People writing and telling me how much they enjoyed it. This made me realise I wasn't alone in being an obsessive teenage football fan.
7. Making the shortlist for Sportsbooks' "Sports Book of the Year."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back to Hayes Lane

So I decided to spend the advance from the book on flying over to watch Bromley play AFC Hornchurch in the FA Cup second qualifying round. Predictably, Bromley were on top almost the entire game and still managed to lose 1-0 thanks to a dubious penalty. The feeling of witnessing a great injustice was as strong as it was almost every Saturday afternoon 40 years ago. At least I got to get my picture taken in the tunnel at Hayes Lane, a shot I know you are dying to see. So here it is, together with a pic of the book in Waterstone's.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In good company

This is the sort of thing that you can discover when you obsessively check your Amazon rankings about a thousand times a day. The Bromley Boys has cracked the top twenty football books and I find myself surrounded by Sir Alex Ferguson and Nick Hornby. Which is a bit like Bromley finding themselves in the FA Cup final.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spot the odd one out

Borders in Leeds a fortnight ago. All but one of the books on display here are concerned with the glorification of hooliganism. The other is the sweet and touching tale of a teenage boy in search of acceptance.
I'd hate to think that the person who took this photo for me removed The Bromley Boys from the shelf alongside and put it up on a prominent display.
If any of you should stumble across such underhand placement of The Bromley Boys in a bookshop, please send a photo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting noticed

If you have a football book out, getting people to review it is relatively easy. As long as the book is about Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool etc and your name is Alex Ferguson, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard etc, that is.
If the subject of your book is one of the lesser lights, it gets harder. And when it's a team no-one's heard of, it's next to impossible.
But while that's certainly true of the mainstream press, I've been finding a much more sympathetic attitude from smaller papers and fan-run blogs. It's almost as though there's a culture out there of editors and writers who are fed up with the big money, glamour side of the game and are enthusiastically supportive of a book that deals with a simple story of a young boy's obsession with his local non-league team.
When Saturday Comes gave it a great review as did one of the best fan sites, twohundredpercent. It's early days yet - the book has only been out for three weeks or so - but it'll be interesting to see where the reviews come from.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why modern football is rubbish - Part One

I appear to be stepping into grumpy old man territory here, but there are some things that just don't belong in football, such as:

1.Shouty goalkeepers

Brilliantly deflect blame for their own incompetence by screaming at team mates for 90 minutes.

2. Taking the ball into the corner and shielding it.

How, exactly, is this not time wasting?

3. Joey Barton.

Started a brawl in a friendly match, stubbed a cigar out on a team mate's eye, assaulted a 15-year-old fan, exposed his arse to Everton fans, broke a Liverpool fan's leg when he hit him with his car, described his team mates as "substandard", assaulted a team mate during training and put him in hospital, punched a teenager outside McDonald's, went to jail... and then welcomed back to his £65,000 a week job by his manager.
That'll teach him...

4. Wagging fingers.

Wayne Rooney has gone from screaming spittle-flecked abuse in the official's face to making continental-style windscreen-wiper motions with his index finger. Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and a host of other over-rated prima donnas have also adopted this obnoxious gesture. Usually comes in tandem with sarcastic applauding. Must be eliminated NOW.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I was not alone.

Back in 1969, I saw one of the most exciting games of my life. Bromley were away to Wealdstone, who, at the time, were one of the most powerful sides in the Isthmian League. Bromley, as you will be aware, were not.
We somehow managed to scrape a draw, with the home team getting a last-minute equaliser.
A Wealdstone fan, who was at the game, and was about the same age as me, has got in touch after reading the book. As soon as he'd finished the chapter about that particular match, he decided to look up the details in his own programme collection. "Was I at the match?" he wrote. " Well, yes, it appeared that I was - as I had written in the result and scorers in red ballpoint pen, as was my custom."
"But what's this?" he continues. " In my own12-year-old handwriting I'd listed Wealdstone as winning 6-1, with Dave Swain getting FOUR goals, and Lincoln Peddie and Mickey Doyle the others. But didn't Dave Roberts chronicle the game as finishing 1-1 after "Postman Pat" Brown had put Bromley ahead?
Oh dear. It seems that for some reason I was so disgusted that the mighty Stones had only managed to draw with the rock-bottom Kent side that I got home, opened the programme and scribbled the imaginary scoreline. Did I think that would make it all better?"
It was one of the best emails I've ever had.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Illusions shattered

Being a Bromley supporter in the 60s and 70s meant having very little to feel smug about. The team regularly finished around the bottom of the Isthmian League, no players were ever picked for representative sides and there were never any FA Cup shocks involving Bromley.
But one thing I always clung on to was the fact that we were genuinely amateur. This explained to my pre-pubescent mind why every other team seemed to be better. It was obviously because they paid their players and we didn't.
I held onto this source of comfort for nearly 40 years. Until last February. That was when, during researching The Bromley Boys, I asked an ex-player why he left the club (and broke my heart) in 1969. He said that he'd had enough of the manager at the time and just wanted out. He then dropped a bombshell. He told me that one of the committee members begged him to stay and stuffed a wad of cash in his boots, which were in his locker. "It was twice as much as my normal weekly payment", the ex-player said. "But I still decided to move".
There are some things you should never, ever have to find out.