Book Review: Jarrod Black – Chasing Pack: A football novel by Texi Smith

This is the fourth book from Texi Smith featuring his character, Jarrod Black, following on from Introducing Jarrod Black (book one), Jarrod Black – Hospital Pass (book two) and Jarrod Black – Guilty Party (book three) as well as his book about Jarrod’s sister, Anna Black – this girl can play.


Chasing Pack finds Jarrod about to start a new season with Darlington after clinching a Play-off win and promotion to League One, with the plotline of the betting syndicate and its chief Yannick Lefevre continuing from Guilty Party. However, as with any good writer, the author provides enough snippets of background information and character introductions for a new reader to pick-up this book in isolation.

As detailed in previous reviews, Jarrod Black and his adventures on the pitch are very much in the Roy of the Rovers vein and in Chasing Pack the author adds a James Bond-esque twist as Jarrod gets the opportunity to play action hero Harlowe Croft. This takes the setting of the majority of the book back to Australia from England and the chance for Jarrod to play in his homeland.

As with the bulk of the series, the book is made up of short sharp chapters (in this case 81), providing readers with quick-fire, fast paced action, in easy to digest bursts. As ever, Smith continues to display his knowledge of the game, this time focusing on the A-League in Australia, mixing fact and fiction to create an authentic feel to the game action and the life of a club and its players.

Interestingly in this book, Jarrod appears to be a tougher and perhaps more flirty character than in previous stories, with his language seemingly more ‘industrial’, perhaps reflecting his move into the movie world and the Harlowe Croft character.

Texi Smith has a winning formula with this series of books and Chasing Pack is as accessible and an enjoyable romp as the other Jarrod Black titles. Where will the next adventure take readers?

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. December 2022. Paperback: 302 pages)


Buy the book here: Chasing Pack

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Aussie footballer Jarrod Black’s life in the English Football League is going well after his exciting adventures in Newcastle, but there’s no time to get complacent.

The opportunity to play Harlowe Croft in the long-running action movie series has arisen and with it the chance to relocate to Australia.

At the same time, our man finds out that dangerous criminals are on the loose and looking for him.

Jarrod sets off, ready to balance football and a new adventure, not knowing the danger – or the excitement – that might be waiting around the corner.

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. December 2022. Paperback: 302 pages)


Buy the book here: Chasing Pack


The fourth novel from author Texi Smith tells the story of Anna Black, a product of suburban Sydney’s large grassroots soccer clubs who blossoms into being a local star turning out for Australia’s biggest W-League clubs, and a regular starter with the Matildas. Anna Black – This girl can play charts Anna’s football journey culminating in the Matildas reaching the final of the 2023 World Cup on home soil and a move to the USA, as well as her life journey as she discovers that falling head-over-heels – something she thought was not for her – can and does happen.

Read our review here: Book Review: Anna (

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. March 2021. Paperback: 262 pages)


In the third instalment of the Jarrod Black series of ‘unashamed football novels’, the Australian journeyman footballer, Jarrod Black, finds himself on national team duty, running out on to his field of dreams, and caught up in a situation not of his making.

Read our review here: Book Review: Jarro (

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. May 2020. Paperback: 306 pages)


Australian midfielder Jarrod Black is a Football League player in England, plying his trade in a team gunning for promotion.

With only a few games left to secure that automatic promotion spot, join our man as he lives through the highs and lows of the end of season dog fight.

Will off-field drama and major challenges unhinge the season?

From the author of Introducing Jarrod Black, this is another unashamed football novel.

Read our review here: Book Review: Jarrod Bl (

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. March 2019. Paperback: 266 pages)


Aussie midfielder Jarrod Black is a successful player in the English Football League.

Whilst the Premier League has eluded him so far, and despite his advancing years, could this be the season when it all finally comes together?

Join our man on a journey through the eyes of a footballer and live the highs and lows as his career takes a twist.

The first in a fictional series following the life and career of Jarrod Black by Texi Smith.

Read our review here: Book Review: Introducing Jarrod Black – An Unashamed Football Novel by Texi Smith (

(Publisher: Popcorn Press. March 2019. Paperback: 274 pages)

Book Review: Anna Black – this girl can play by Texi Smith

Texi Smith has brought readers three books so far, Introducing Jarrod Black, Hospital Pass and Guilty Party, featuring the central character, successful fictional Socceroos player Jarrod Black. In his latest offering from his ‘unashamed football novel’ series Smith brings readers Anna Black – this girl can play, as we are introduced to Jarrod’s younger sister, Anna.

Whilst the Jarrod Black books are set predominantly in England and in real-time, the Anna Black story takes place mainly in Australia, and looks to the future with the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the heart of the plotlines, which incidentally will be hosted in two years’ time by the Antipodean neighbours of Australia and New Zealand.

Format-wise this book follows those of the first and third Jarrod Black stories, with fifty short sharp chapters keeping the readers attention and the action moving along at pace, as the football career of Anna unfolds. As with his other titles Smith displays his own love, knowledge and experience of the game through his writing with the plots and situations strong with their usual convincing credibility thanks to his research, aided by those who he acknowledges provided insight and guidance into the life of elite players in the women’s game down under.

Whilst this is a football-tale, Smith hasn’t been afraid in this book to touch on sexuality within women’s game and he deals with it in a sensitive manner, engendering a positive message about football being an inclusive game.

There is also a nod to how technology can be used in modern-day publishing with QR codes dotted throughout for the World Cup matches. It’s a nice touch and for those unable to access the codes a dedicated page on the web has been provided at

This book is undoubtedly a celebration of the women’s game and hopefully will be inspirational to young girls who want to take up the sport. Anna Black – this girl can play well Texi Smith – this boy can write.

[Note: The QR code that appears on page 206 should have sat between pages 215-216. This should be rectified in later copies of the book.]


(Popcorn Press. March 2021. Paperback: 254 pages)


Top Ten Football Books: Texi Smith

Texi Smith was born in the North East of England, following Newcastle United, the team he still supports, despite him now residing in Sydney, Australia. Besides continuing to follow the fortunes of The Toon from afar, Texi also supports Sydney FC (The Sky Blues) who play in the A-League. He is the creator of the Jarrod Black series of books under the Unashamed Football Novel banner– Introducing Jarrod Black, Hospital Pass and Guilty Party – all reviewed here on FBR.

Texi gives us his Top Ten Football books, providing FBR with an international flavour to our authors favourites, although there is more than a hint of his roots influencing his choices!

  1. Tony Adams – Addicted

I don’t know why I bought this book ahead of so many others. I read it soon after it was released, and it was a fine introduction to football biographies. It was a very honest read and gave an insight into the psyche of a professional footballer at the top of his game – living the dream whilst living a lie.

  1. Who ate all the Pies – the life and times of Mick Quinn

Another one from years ago. Amidst a well organised boycott, The Toon kicked off the season against Leeds United. I was there to witness an outrageous game, Newcastle coming from 2-1 down to win 5-2 against the pre-season favourites. Mick Quinn became an instant hero with his four goals that day and he continued to be a hero of mine throughout his time in black and white. This book was a yarn, but a likeable one. I’ve since been gifted another copy of the book and I’m tempted to re-read it to see if my perspective has changed over time.

  1. The Newcastle Miscellany – Mike Bolam

I picked this one up in the Back Page, a legendary shop down the road from St James Park, on one of my trips back to see the family in the UK. This is just as it says, a book full of sometimes obscure facts about Newcastle United and was a fascinating read.

  1. Capital Punishment – Dougie Brimson

This one was bought in a bookstore in Melbourne many years ago and I thought it was impressive at the time that a book about football hooligans would make its way around the world onto the shelves of a major book stockist. It was a pretty good read too, and I understand there’s a whole catalogue of Dougie Brimson books now to catch up on. And I will.

  1. Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby

Don’t groan. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t care what anyone says, this was a bloody fantastic read and was ground-breaking. Having lived the Liverpool v Arsenal game in ‘89 in front of my telly in my teens and watched the unbelievable drama unfold, the Liverpool players surrounding the referee after the first goal and the climax in the final minute, this was everything I could have asked for in a storyline. I believe you can read this book again and get a different viewpoint, but on first read many years ago I absolutely loved this one.

  1. Surfing for England – Jason Goldsmith

Sometimes simply the idea behind a book is compelling enough to make you dive in. This one is a series of chapters about players from around the world who were eligible to play for Australia but chose to play elsewhere. A series of ‘what could have been’ stories, the title of the book inspired by a Craig Johnstone quote when asked whether he should play football for Australia. Terrific read and I can’t wait for the author’s next one, which is an equally fascinating subject.

  1. A Season with Verona – Tim Parks

I’m putting this one in even though I’ve only just started to read it. The concept of the book is fantastic, my only gripe so far is that the font is so small that my tired eyes don’t cope when I’m reading at night! I’ve got a feeling so far though that it is a cracker and I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to give it in the coming weeks.

  1. Boy on the Shed – Paul Ferris

Any book about a Newcastle United player, especially one from my era on the terraces at St James, is worth a shot. This one was my holiday read at the turn of this year. I found it superbly written, quite rightly winning accolades back in the UK. It was one of those books that leaves you wanting more at the end. I kind of wanted it to stop so the author could take up the story again later in life and continue it.

  1. Whatever it Takes – the inside story of the FIFA way – Bonita Mersiades

I thought I understand the plot of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid fiasco before reading this one. I’d only scratched the surface though, and this book took me deep into the process and jogged memories of just how disappointed we all were when the winners were announced. A book of two halves I’d call it, a rip-roaring read in the first half that made me wide-eyed at some of the goings on, then a second half of dissecting the characters and trying to work out answers to how and why. The cast list is enormous, there are new names cropping up all the time, but that adds to the craziness of the whole situation. I was absolutely wrapped up in this book and found myself reading well into the night to finish it.

  1. Full Time – The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino – Paul Kimmage

I was given this book by a mate who just nodded and told me to trust him. I’m glad I did. Perhaps the timing of reading this book, the fact that I’d spent a lot of time in France around the same era, or maybe it was just because it was a fabulous read, saw me unable to put this bloody book down. Heart-breakingly honest and wonderfully relevant, I instantly fell in love with this tale and I was almost distraught when I finished it. A 10/10 classic which you simply have to read.

Bench-warmer: Frozen in Time – Steven Scragg. This one doesn’t feature in the top ten as I’ve only recently got it and I’ve not given it a chance over the last few weeks. I need some quality reading time and I’m determined to get stuck in properly – the first chapter bounced around so much that I couldn’t follow, but I’m putting it down to being absolutely wrecked every time I picked up the book. Legacy – Tim Cahill gets an honorary mention too – loved following his early years at Millwall in the book. It did get unnecessarily fluffy towards the end. Still really enjoyed it. Anyone who can put their whole life into words is very brave in doing so, and what a talented player.

Book Review: Jarrod Black – Guilty Party: Another Unashamed Football Novel by Texi Smith

This is the third book from Texi Smith featuring his character, Jarrod Black, following on from Introducing Jarrod Black (book one) and Jarrod Black – Hospital Pass (book two). Guilty Party picks up after the finish of the season which had been concluded at the end of the second book and immediately explodes into life in a fast-paced opening which sets the scene for the third instalment of the Australian international player, continuing to ply his domestic trade in the north-east of England.

Stylistically it is a return to the short sharp chapters of Introducing Jarrod Black, which keeps the reader engaged as the scenes move on in quick-fire fashion, which has overtones of a televisual style. Smith continues to display once again his knowledge of the game and mixes fact and fiction to create an authenticity around how clubs function and the characters within it.

There is a change though in the plotline, as Guilty Party is something of a whodunnit, which Smith skilfully and believably handles, and as in the previous books, there is a Roy of the Rovers feel about this latest adventure, with the feel-good factor retained around the central character. Indeed, as a reader, the authors pride and love of his home city Newcastle and its team, is evident through his portrayal of Black.

As with Hospital Pass, there is a double-meaning in the title of Guilty Party, which will become evident to readers. To say anything more about it, would be to spoil the plot!

Have Texi Smith and Jarrod Black got another winner here? Absolutely. It’s a read that will hook you in and be difficult to put down.


(Popcorn Press. May 2020. Paperback 306pp)



Interview with Texi Smith, author of ‘Jarrod Black – Guilty Party’

Following the success of the first two Jarrod Black novels, Introducing Jarrod Black, and Jarrod Black – Hospital Pass, we at footballbookreviews (FBR) are delighted that there is a third offering in the series – Guilty Party. Ahead of our review of the book, we caught up with their author Texi Smith (TS) to talk all things ‘lockdown’ and what readers can expect from this latest instalment.

(FBR): What has lockdown been like for you?

(TS): Lockdown seems to have been a lot less traumatic in this part of the world. Australia has been locked down state by state. Apart from letting a cruise ship dock in Sydney and let out a group of contaminated people, New South Wales has been well contained. Only Victoria remains as the hot spot for the virus. Park football started up again at the beginning of July, the NRL (rugby league) and AFL (Australian Rules football) have been going for a few weeks now behind closed doors, and A-League (football) restarts in a couple of weeks. Apart from having to hunt high and low for toilet paper and having six weeks with limited movement around town, we’ve been very lucky.

(FBR): Has it allowed for more reading and writing? If so, what has been a stand-out read and what have you been writing?

(TS): I was midway through writing a fourth book when COVID-19 struck. I absolutely powered through the writing and finished the first draft in May. It’s a different story this time, an aside from the chronicles of Jarrod Black, but I absolutely loved writing it. I’ll be getting back to the editing process when the publisher gives the green light. I found my favourite ever football book in lockdown too – Full Time: The Secret Life Of Tony Cascarino. It just struck a chord with me and I could not put it down. I’d recommend it to anyone who was around to experience the twilight of his career.

(FBR): What was the inspiration for writing the third instalment of the Jarrod Black series, ‘Guilty Party’?

(TS) Guilty Party was born from the exciting end to the second book, Hospital Pass. It allowed me to go back to the North East of England and write about Newcastle and St James Park. Again, it was great fun writing it and the story took some twists as it evolved. The next in the series is underway, but with life getting back to normal, progress is at a more realistic pace.

(FBR): Finally, what’s on the horizon for you?

(TS): Australia and New Zealand will be the hosts for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 – look out for the next book, as yet untitled, which delves into the World Cup scene for its storyline. You’ll love this one!