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)


At the end of Thacker’s previous novel – The Games People Play – life had given aspiring manager Jon Moreton a good kicking and he was heading for the plane home.

He had failed to get his Spanish club, CD Retama, promoted and they looked set to fold. Sophia, his girlfriend/assistant coach, had left him, thinking he had conspired in the club’s demise.

As for his one-time friend Billy Swan, he was even more rock bottom, having succumbed to blackmail and sold out his mates.

In this much-anticipated sequel, will things take a turn for the better for Moreton? Will he cope back in England without Sophia? Will Swan turn up again like a bad penny? Has the Spain chapter of his life closed, or can anything be salvaged?

Expect a few twists in the tale, a few more jinking runs into the box and last-ditch, winning goals. It’s A Whole New Ball Game.

(Publisher: 1889 Books. November 2021. Paperback: 246 pages)


Jon Moreton would have made it to the top-flight as a player: he had the mentality and ability, but his body let him down.

An old friend Charlie Broome comes to the rescue and gives him a break: managing the struggling Spanish amateur league side CD Retama.

Feathers are ruffled: he is mistrusted by the players and stand-in coach, Sophia Garrigues. Can he adapt to life in Spain and turn things around?

Plenty of twists and turns through the season in this tale of football, love, and betrayal.

Read our review here: Book Review: Th (

(Publisher: 1889 Books. October 2020. Paperback: 252 pages)


Book Review: Matchday by Ross Paterson

Matchday is Ross Paterson’s second entry into the world of writing, having released an eBook, Before 2012, in September 2014, telling the tale of five fictional stories of British sporting defeats. One of those five features football and is an imagined Intercontinental Cup game set in 1978 between Liverpool and Boca Juniors.

Now in 2021, Paterson, a self-confessed keen football and sports fan, takes up the pen once more and returns with a solely fictional football novel. The book takes readers back to the beginning of the English Premier League in 1992/93 backed by satellite TV station Sky and their slogan, “It’s a whole new ball game”. Whilst Sky dominated the air-waves, RTV (a fictional broadcasting company) take their first steps into live games showing one Premier League game a week, with a trio of ex-players as their pundits, Dave Massey, Kevin Sheerman and Craig MacLeod. With ratings low, the station needs to liven up its panel and decide to take on ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers’ centre-forward, Clyde Benjamin, who as an outspoken, controversial and confrontational figure, provides the required spice. As Paterson acknowledges these four central characters, “are composite figures drawn from famous players and pundits…who even after retirement from the sport…are still competitive” and will be eminently recognisable by readers.

The book has three main plot lines, all involving Benjamin. The first sees him seek to oust the other three pundits and destroy their careers, with the second an ongoing dispute with Middlesbrough striker Steve Collyer and the third involving a disgruntled fan from Benjamin’s playing days at Molineux. These all combine to provide an entertaining comedic novel which does not hold back from the macho posturing of the football world, and has a sense of the writing of Tom Sharpe, with a bawdy style and humour that plays out in a slightly chaotic world that will certainly grab readers attention.

Matchday is very much a reflection of Paterson’s view of football where “the whole matchday experience for me, as a fan, involves some laughter – be it with your mates going to the game, in the crowd or aimed at away fans. There is humour in football and the book tries to deliver some of that.” He also shows an undoubted knowledge of the game as the book blends fact with fiction, although at times, this could be dealt with in a more seamless manner. There is a serious point to the book as well, with Paterson having a black central character in Benjamin, providing observations on the mixed messages that football can give out in relation to racism, and these should not be ignored as being part of the story.

Football fiction is not an easy genre to pull-off, but Paterson does a good job in an entertaining romp that certainly leaves the door open for a possible sequel.

(Independently Published. April 2021. Paperback 195 pages)



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Book Review: The Games People Play by Gary Thacker

Gary Thacker is a recognised football writer with his own website and has contributed to and been involved with a number of websites, podcasts, newspapers and magazines. In addition he has written two books, I Don’t Even Smoke! – A brief history of life, love and football through blue-tinted glasses. Oh yes, and a cigar (published 2016) and Cheers, Tears and Jeers: A History of England and the World Cup (published 2018). His latest book, The Games People Play Paperback, is his first venture into fiction.

The central character is Jon Moreton, a young player who having turned professional, has his career cut short by a serious injury. Still wanting to be involved in the game that is his passion, he takes his coaching qualifications and after working his way up to being in charge of the Development Squad at his former club, finds himself out of work when the owner sells to a foreign investor. Jon though is then offered the chance to manage abroad with a lower league Spanish team, CD Retama. Here the Englishman faces the challenges of not speaking the language and having to win over the trust of a young and inexperienced squad and their female coach, Sophia Garringues, as Jon attempts to get his charges promoted.

Gary Thacker’s football knowledge and his writing ability are not in doubt in this book, which its PR claims contains, “plenty of twists and turns…in this tale of football, love and betrayal”. Indeed, the authors understanding of football in areas such as the intricacies of the Spanish football pyramid, the UEFA coaching badges and qualifications, and his description and detail relating to the club on and off the pitch and indeed the playing of the game, give this book an authentic feel.

Part of the mark of a good book is knowing how much and when to use such detail and requires an understanding of the reader. Given this book attempts to include a football plotline, a love interest and a plot twist, for me as a reader the conclusion is that in covering all this ground, I’m left not knowing who the author is actually appealing to in terms of a target audience.

Pace wise, the story gathers momentum as the football season reaches its conclusion, with the final chapter (which shares it name with the title of the book, and its double meaning), providing the climax, in a finish which does provide a gripping finale.

(1889 Books. October 2020. Paperback 252 pages)


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