I don’t know what possessed me to get this book. I found it online by chance. The title of the book doesn’t exactly give it away, but seeing the familiar name of Paul Ferris, a player around in the time when I was starting to go to St James Park regularly, it was an obvious choice. It’s also been nominated (and I’m guessing won) for the Sports Book Awards, so it was guaranteed to be a good read.
I couldn’t help sneaking in a few chapters just after it arrived, and it centred around Ferris’ younger years in Northern Ireland during the height of the troubles. But I saved the main consumption until I was on holiday over Christmas and in a position to spend some quality time reading. I was glad I did. The storyline grows as the author grows, and the book has a sort of half-time. Growing up and rising to fame is the first half. The half time break is where injury strikes, and the second half of the story takes the reader right up to the present day.
Personally I loved the first half, getting to know the character and following the machine that takes promising footballers from unknowns in junior football to stars in the top leagues. There were parallels with my own first novel, Introducing Jarrod Black, giving me confidence that the portrayal of a player breaking into the first team was pretty accurate. There are two sets of photos in the book. The first set seems to come a little early, as some of the photos are from scenarios not mentioned yet, but they do make you want to read further. The author obviously has quite a circle of close friends in football.
The second half of the book saw some surprising twists. I thought I had the story worked out coming into the last six or seven chapters, but I definitely didn’t. The lack of a social media account for the author made it impossible to ‘read ahead’ via other sources to find out exactly what he was doing these days, so the story remained new and fresh. At the end, I was left contemplating, but had been greatly entertained.
Paul Ferris is a very brave man for writing this book. It delves into some dark areas and highlights his lack of self-confidence in his ability at many stages of his careers. I feel as though I know him a lot more than before, and I’m gutted I never got to see him reach his full potential as a player.
If anyone knows the author, give him a hug from me. He writes as if he really enjoys it, and deserves all the good luck that will hopefully come his way in the future, whether it be in writing more or in a completely different field. It’s another five stars from me!