ITV7 by James Durose-Rayner

High-Flying sports media mogul and David Beckham doppelganger, Mr. Arsenal – otherwise known as Lee Janes, is back.

Following the production of his company’s documentaries on the former-Arsenal player Jon Sammels, England’s failed World Cup bid and Ramsey’s failings of 1970, and the deceit surrounding Munich 1958, his company had started to be taken very seriously and were awarded a six-month contract to give ITV a few hours a week.

However, things don’t always go to plan – not in his life, anyway.

Side-tracked by his home-life that includes a loving wife, a needy ex-wife, a miserable baby and a more miserable football team led by an even more miserable manager, he sees his team’s 2014/15 season mirroring both the 1958/59 season and the 1972/73 season – and he comes up with ‘Parallel’s – The throwing away of the Doubles.’

However, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the story that is ITV 7.

Read our review here: Book Review: itv seven (

(Publisher: New Generation Publishing. March 2017. Paperback: 544 pages)

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I AM SAM by James Durose-Rayner

High-flying sports-media mogul and David Beckham doppelgänger, Mr. Arsenal is living every football fan’s dream: he’s loaded, has his pick of the ladies and drives a flashy sports car. And to make his life even sweeter, he’s been chosen to work on coverage for the 2014 World Cup.

Tasked with producing a short documentary, Mr. Arsenal, stumbles upon footage from Mexico 1970 and a high-profile spat between television pundit and Manchester City coach Malcolm Allison and Tottenham Hotspur player and captain Alan Mullery.

On further investigation, he unearths a reference to a half-forgotten player named only as ‘Sammy’ and referred to as the one who was ‘left behind’. Determined to discover the man behind the name, Mr. Arsenal quickly becomes obsessed with the tragic story of this once top-flight footballer whose brilliance has been all but lost in the annals of sporting history; a player who was once one of the highest paid and most successful players in Britain: Jon Sammels.

As Mr Arsenal revisits Sammels’ professional heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s, the impact on his own life is extraordinary.

Read our review here: I AM SAM by Ja (

(Publisher: Clink Street Publishing. February 2015. Paperback: 498 pages)

Book Review: The Queen of Cups: Part 2, by James Durose-Rayner

So that’s it. The final whistle. The trilogy that has brought readers, I Am Sam, itv seven and The Queen of Cups has concluded.

Throughout all the journey, author James Durose-Rayner has maintained a winning formula which has seen the fictional world of central character Lee Janes mix with the factual football world, focusing on Arsenal FC across the decades. In the first book, I Am Sam, Janes existed in a high-paced chaotic setting which was a whirlwind of dodgy deals and a revolving door of women. By the final part of the trilogy, Queen of Cups: Part 2, the central character has lost none of his roguish charm, but now occupies a more settled space both in his personal and business life, which is reflected in the tempo of the writing of both parts of the Queen of Cups.

This change in Janes can be put down to one person, whose influence grew as the trilogy continued – that being his wife Emily, known as ‘M’. Her influence though is not simply on her once-errant husband, but on all those that she meets. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the title of the final parts of the trilogy could be viewed as a reference and indeed a tribute to ‘M’, as a typical set of tarot cards gives the definition of the Queen of Cups as the following: she is nurturing, caring, compassionate and sensitive. She is a good wife and a loving mother as she is emotionally secure and can connect on an emotional level with others. No intuition is more powerful than that of the Queen of Cups – all traits displayed by the latest Mrs. Janes.

On the flip side however, if the reader was looking for an oblique football reference within the final part’s title, then it may be found in the featuring of the management years of Terry Neil at Highbury. The term ‘Cup Kings’ is one familiar to football fans down the years, so has Durose-Rayner inverted this to the Queen of Cups, pointing the finger at the Gunners who from three FA Cup Final and one European Cup Winners Cup Final during the Neil years, achieved victory just once, despite a wealth of talent such as Alan Hudson (who is wonderfully depicted), Malcolm MacDonald, Liam Brady, Graham Rix and Frank Stapleton.

And that has been one of the strengths of the trilogy in that the strands of reality and fiction engage the reader through different storylines. The personal lives and the emotional journeys of the main characters run comfortably alongside the well-researched insights into the events at Arsenal. The characters and the world they inhabit is all very believable, and for all the bloke-ish banter and humour, the reader also gets to see their vulnerability and sensitivity.

Like the central character Lee Janes, there is more to this trilogy than first meets the eye.



Book Review: Queen of Cups: Part 1: by James Durose-Rayner

Queen of Cups is the final instalment of the trilogy that includes, I Am Sam and itv7 and differs from the first two books is that it is in two parts.

As with I Am Sam and itv7, Queen of Cups is a mix of the fictional word of central character Lee Janes and a factual exploration of aspects of the history of Arsenal FC. This time the focus is on the years of ex-England and Wolves player Billy Wright and his difficult period as manager at Highbury (1962-1966) and that of Terry Neil who was in the hot-seat for the Gunners from 1976 to 1983. Woven into the story of the Neil era are tales of unrest, politics and poor management as players such as Alan Ball, Liam Brady, Alan Hudson and Malcolm MacDonald came and went from the Marble Halls of N5. However, the author also looks to touch on other football topics, so that for instance the continuing problems at Blackpool FC between fans and owner has an airing.

Away from the football, Lee Janes’ businesses in the form of the itv7 channel, studios and music company continue to be successful and this story is told through chapters from the central character, longtime best friend Sooty and one of the television staff Abi. What these chapters also do is further delve into the past of Lee, his wife Emily, ex-wife Jeanette and Sooty, providing more glimpses into their backstory, giving the reader a more complete picture of what makes the central protagonists tick and its impact on their present-day life.

Indeed, the slowly more considered and reflective storytelling within Queen of Cups reveals the insecurities and vulnerabilities of the main characters that is only hinted at within I Am Sam and itv7. This allows the reader, as in the earlier parts of the trilogy, to fully engage with both the cast and plot-lines.

If Queen of Cups was a match you were watching, you would be more than happy with the opening period and the entertainment so far, but now having returned to your seat in the stands after the break, it’s time for the second-half and you just can’t wait to see how it turns out.


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Book Review: I Am Sam by James Durose-Rayner

I Am Sam is the opening book of a trilogy by James Durose-Rayner. This opening instalment introduces the reader to a central character with a love of Arsenal FC, the looks of David Beckham and a personal life more convoluted than Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy.

The book operates in both a fictional and factual context, with the main characters, the fictional creations, set against the factual backdrop of Arsenal during the 2013/14 season and the career of onetime Arsenal player Jon Sammels.

Durose-Rayner brings these together using the premise of a sports-media company that the central character and business partner Sooty own and run. Charged with creating a documentary for the 2014 World Cup, their research leads them to take up another thread, that of Jon Sammels (Sammy) who was at Highbury from 1963 until 1971.

For the most part the story is told through the central character and the first person narrative, although this in interspersed with chapters from Eddie Mardell, a journalist who becomes involved in the Sammy documentary.

In terms of the timeline, it is dominated by a chronological path, however, this is broken up by flashbacks to Sammy’s period at the Gunners and the football world of his time. This enables the reader to become familiar with the England team at the 1970 World Cup, the Arsenal side that won the Fairs Cup the same year and the Double winning side of 1971 and its subsequent breakup, including the departure of Sammels to Leicester City.

Running parallel to the football plotline is that of the central character and his private life, which can only be described as complicated – and even that would be an understatement. Durose-Rayner uses both blokeish language and humour to convey and navigate the chaotic nature of these relationships, but still is also able to present some emotional depth to the man in the middle of it all. Indeed the world that is created has some wonderfully constructed and totally believable cameos such as the café owner Fosis and his regulars.

Undoubtedly the book has a great tempo which allied with the two strong plotlines makes it both engaging and absorbing and subsequently difficult to put down. A great addition to the football fiction genre.


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