Ah! My long-awaited first novel Ball Or Nothing. It’s been a love-hate relationship since I first had the idea for the novel the best part of a decade ago. There has been blood, sweat and tears shed over the laptop over these past 10 years (plus plenty of time distracted by getting Southend United into the Premier League on Football Manager). But I got there in the end.
A short synopsis of the book is that our hero, Richie Price, has been booted out by his missus, Julie, and is desperate to win her back. He surmises that all women love a rich footballer – but how do you become a professional footballer when you’re 42, overweight and shit at football? (Don’t ask me, I never figured it out, did I?).
Richie, who is a Southend United fan, targets a fictional club called London City United to try out his caper. Along the way, he rubs a few people up the wrong way and they do their very best to bring him down.
Do they succeed? Does Richie ever achieve his football dreams? Will Julie go back to him? Well, you’ll have to stump up £9.99 to buy the book to find out.
There is a lot of personal experience in Ball Or Nothing and not just being over 40, overweight and shit at football! I grew up in Southend and my dad took me and my brother to Roots Hall to watch the Blues regularly. Later, I covered the club as a sports reporter for local newspapers too. While I’m also a Tottenham Hotspur fan, there will always be a very dear place in my heart for the Shrimpers, and I still go to a few matches each season.
There are other stories from “real life” in the book, such as “Karl” (to use his real name) lamping a cocky opposition striker and having to leave the field, and me using my testicles to clear the ball off the line during a match.
And pretty much all the characters are named after friends or relatives (usually the first name of one and surname of another. Richie Price is named after my mates Richard White and Jon Price, for example).
I have also included references to a number of Southend United memories, as well as glorious goals scored by the likes of Beckham, Shearer, Ronaldinho, Radford and Fashanu, among others.
It’s funny, silly and includes quite a few swear words, but I hope the reader will be taken on an enjoyable trip down a few memory lanes footballwise, while also finding out if Richie ever wins Julie back.