It is July 1976 and Robin Friday is now a Third Division footballer, but he still dreams of reaching the top of his profession.

There is only one thing that stands in his way: himself.

Kane takes us inside the mind of Friday and brings him back to life in this vivid tale of one of football’s wildest men.

This biographical fiction finally reveals the details that led to his difficulties at Reading and Cardiff City before his tragic death aged just thirty-eight years old.

Read our review here: Book Review – Man Frid (

(Publisher: Helpston Fuller. November 2020. Paperback: 324 pages)





Robin Friday dreams of being a professional footballer: rejection, drugs, borstal, and a near-fatal industrial accident won’t stop him.

In early 1974, Reading’s manager, Charlie Hurley, signs Friday. After three games, it is plain to see that he’s a very special talent, but it’s also clear to Charlie Hurley that he has an untameable spirit on his hands.

This biographical fiction takes the reader into the nerve endings of Friday’s character, into the smaller moments, and brings him back to life and finishes in the summer of 1976. It is a story of love, crime, disloyalty, friendship, humour, and some battling football scenes.

This is Man Friday: the first half.

Read our review here: Book Review: Man Fri (

(Publisher: Helpston Fuller. May 2020. Paperback: 326 pages)


Robin Friday was an exceptional footballer who should have played for England. He never did.

Robin Friday was a brilliant player who could have played in the top flight. He never did. Why? Because Robin Friday was a man who would not bow down to anyone, who refused to take life seriously and who lived every moment as if it were his last. For anyone lucky enough to have seen him play, Robin Friday was up there with the greats. Take it from one who knows: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that if someone had taken a chance on him he would have set the top division alight,’ says the legendary Stan Bowles. ‘He could have gone right to the top, but he just went off the rails a bit.’ Loved and admired by everyone who saw him, Friday also had a dark side: troubled, strong-minded, reckless, he would end up destroying himself. Tragically, after years of alcohol and drug abuse, he died at the age of 38 without ever having fulfilled his potential.

This book provides the first full appreciation of a man too long forgotten by the world of football and will surely give him the cult status he deserves.

(Publisher: Mainstream Publishing. First published 1997. Paperback: 192 pages)

Book Review – Man Friday: The Second Half (The Life and Times of Robin Friday. Book 2) by Stuart Kane

This is the second part of Stuart Kane’s work on the ex-Reading and Cardiff City player Robin Friday. The first book was reviewed by FBR back in September 2020 and can be found here.

Kane starts this second-half, picking up from the end of the first instalment in the summer of 1976, with Reading having been promoted from the Fourth Division and awaiting the new season and life in the Third Division. It sees the players including Robin Friday in dispute with the club over pay. However, he starts the season at Elm Park, before a transfer to then Second Division Cardiff City in December 1976, where he sees out the 1976/77 campaign but then makes only two league appearances the following season before retiring from the professional game.

Stylistically the book continues in its biographical fiction form as Kane once more combines real-life events and fictional narrative to get inside the head of Robin Friday. However, there is a distinct difference in focus which derives from all that was happening in Friday’s life. In the first book, covering his playing career during the 1973/74, 1974/75 and 1975/76 campaigns, readers get more detail around the mercurial player and his time at Reading on the pitch. Here in the second book, over the following three seasons, Friday makes just half the number of appearances as he did in his first three years as a professional with Friday’s life off the pitch now the dominant force. The joy of playing that was evident in the first book is plainly missing here in the second as Kane conveys to the reader how drug addiction and drinking came to take over Robin’s life. Apart from his dazzling debut for Cardiff against Fulham, in which he outplays former England captain Bobby Moore, the football detailed in this second instalment feels like a struggle for Friday as he fights against a body wracked by the ruthless challenges of brutal opponents and its cravings for the next fix.

This second instalment portrays a man in turmoil, who battles with himself in terms of his demons. A lost career and the dreams of playing First Division football, the failed marriages, the ignominy of run-ins with the law, the flare-ups on and off the pitch, all leading to a sad conclusion in an early death.

That Robin Friday was a talented player there is no doubt as testified by those that managed and played with him. However, in addition, he was undoubtedly also a complicated character. Kane captures both his playing genius and his struggles, the highs on the pitch and his lows away from it with the two books reflecting that dichotomy. Kane wanted to provide a read that captured and was true to the spirit of Robin Friday. This he has done in a game of two halves, and leaves readers to imagine what might have been.


(Helpston Fuller. November 2020. Paperback 314 pages)


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

Book Review: Man Friday: The First Half (The Life and Times of Robin Friday) by Stuart Kane

Where to start? Well, the back cover of this book defines itself as “biographical fiction” so a definition of the term is as good a place as any to begin. In essence, biographical fiction is a form of writing which takes a real-life individual and combines actual events in their life with a fictional narrative in which other situations and characters are created to tell the story.

Man Friday: The First Half (The Life and Times of Robin Friday) by Stuart Kane, isn’t the first book in the football arena to use such a form, with David Peace’s excellent The Damned Utd (published 2006) and Red or Dead (published 2013) forerunners. Peace looked at the 44 days that Brian Clough spent at Elland Road in charge of Leeds United at the start of the 1974/75 season, in The Damned Utd, whilst Red or Dead featured the managerial career of Bill Shankly at Liverpool from 1959 to 1974.

Whilst both of Peace’s books looked at managers and life in the then top-flight of English Football – the First Division, Kane turns his attention to a player from the other end of the football spectrum, Robin Friday at Division Four side, Reading.

This first book whilst dominated by Friday’s career at Reading between 1974 and 1976, provides the reader with a very brief introduction to his upbringing, with details of his playing time as a youth at Chelsea, his early drug taking, a spell in borstal and a near fatal accident whilst working asphalting. They are a useful scene setter in understanding the character of Robin Friday and the way he led his life.

Kane provides details of the games that Friday played in at Reading’s old Elm Park ground and provides in each, on the one hand an element of factual content in terms of the score-line and scorers and on the other provides a very real sense of what football was like at this level during the 70s. This was a time when the game was very physical and skilful players such as Friday got little protection from referee’s, and their play was not helped by surfaces that ranged from grassless and bone hard to mud baths. Life in the Fourth Division was unglamorous, as fans and players endured poor facilities and crumbling stadiums, with the threat of hooliganism also a possible part of the matchday experience. Players at that time were a lifetime away from those of today with dietary plans and inventive training, instead this was a period when the drinking culture was the norm.

The book whilst successfully capturing the football landscape of the time, also delivers through Friday, the superstition, repetition and routine of life as a professional player. Where in The Damned Utd, Peace has Brian Clough repeatedly prowling the corridors of Elland Road as he attempts to deal with the reputation of former Manager Don Revie that hangs over Clough and the club, Kane has Friday going through the same match routine prior to the start of the game. Out on the pitch is where Friday can excel and express himself, with his off-field drug taking and drinking providing his escape from the pressures of life, which Kane imparts through the fictionalisation of life away from the pitch.

This is an engaging read and draws you into Friday’s world, leaving the reader eagerly awaiting the second half of the story.


(Helpston Fuller. May 2020. Paperback 326pp)