Interview with Mat Guy author of The Ghosts of Inchmery Road

Mat Guy is a much travelled and well versed author and has written a number of football titles including Another Bloody Saturday, Barcelona to Buckie Thistle, Minnows United, The Lives of Stanley B and The Ghosts of Inchmery Road.

FBR has been fortunate to have reviewed a couple of these, Another Bloody Saturday and The Lives of Stanley B.

We caught up Mat to talk about his last book The Ghosts of Inchmery Road.


Football Book Reviews (FBR): What was your inspiration for writing The Ghosts of Inchmery Road?

Mat Guy (MG): The inspiration was my childhood memories of going to the football – the rich sights, sounds, memories of people, incidents, and how it all made me feel. It was magical, and the football ground was a sacred place (still is). But even then, it was the people around me on the terraces and in the stands, the characters behind the scenes that captivated me just as much as my heroes on the pitch. I wanted to paint a picture of a club from this perspective – all the love, sacrifice, and passion that goes into supporting a team

FBR: What was the context for writing The Ghosts of Inchmery Road?

MG: I wanted to write a social history of a football club, focusing on the characters, the stories, and the often unnoticed acts of devotion that populate the terraces. I find these more interesting than the statistical records of success and failure played out on the pitch.

These characters and stories are the lifeblood of a club, but rarely get explored in any great detail, or are afforded the focus they deserve. I wanted to shine a light on these stories – some collected over the years, some fictional – building them into this unnamed club in The Ghosts of Inchmery Road.

I wanted to keep the club unnamed because I hoped it could represent every club, any club, inspiring people to think about the rich social history of their team, and the true success they have enjoyed in giving people a sense of belonging, meaning, pride, and identity.

FBR: What do you see as the link between The Lives of Stanley B and The Ghosts of Inchmery Road given the mention of Tom Maskell who features in both titles?

MG: The Ghosts of Inchmery Road was a result of wanting to learn more about the club Tom Maskell played for in The Lives of Stanley B. Writing the first book, it felt that the club our narrator supports, and the club Tom played for had some unfinished business – had extra stories to tell. Tom also appeared briefly in The Ghosts of Inchmery Road as a nod to my mum wanting to know what became of him. She needed a resolution of some sort.

FBR: Mortality looms large in the book with the passing of not only the nightwatchmen but players, fans etc. from the past. Would it be fair to say that it extends to the death of the game, clubs and traditional fans, as we know them, with the continuing globalisation and financial boom of the professional game especially within the Premier League?

MG: The more that football heads down this route, the more I turn away from it – looking down rather than up for the soul of football. This is why the club in The Ghosts of Inchmery Road is a lower league team. All the nonsense rarely filters down to this level – and football is as it has always been. But even here, it is the fans who collect the history of the club, who curate and secure it. Without them, that soul disappears. So it is a cautionary tale in so much as if you lose the fans, you lose so much more than the price of a ticket.

The closeness you feel to the players, everyone at a lower league/non-league club is a symptom of a healthy, if sometimes financially impoverished, club. The stories in The Ghosts of Inchmery Road aim to show that magic, that sense of belonging, meaning, identity that you get from actually being there, week in, week out. Volunteers giving up their time, others working for a pittance, and yet it being the best job in the world.

I wonder if football at the very top is losing that…

FBR: Thank you for your time Mat. We look forward to your next project.


For anyone interested in finding out more about Mat Guy and his work,  visit his writing blog here and follow on X account here @MatGuy5

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Posted May 12, 2024 by admin in category "Interviews

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