Book Review – Sir Unwin Pugh: From Hull to Camp Nou by Warren Dudley

The Bromley Boys DVD cover

Warren Dudley is a screenwriter best known for the 2018 film The Bromley Boys based on the book about Bromley FC by Dave Roberts. In 2020 Dudley turned his hand to writing novels, producing Baby Blue: An American Horror Story and then his football based book, Sir Unwin Pugh: From Hull to Camp Nou.

The author himself describes it as, “a comedy football autobiography about a 90 year old ex-player and raconteur called Sir Unwin Pugh. A bit Partridge, a bit Count Arthur Strong, a bit Ron Atkinson.” Traits from these three personas are presented to the reader, as Sir Unwin regals his life story against the background of an impending court case. Like Alan Partridge, Pugh is never afraid to promote his own worth and has something of the Little Englander about him, with his right-wing views evident through his story. Pugh also displays at times a pompous attitude with significant delusions about his abilities as a player and manager, and indeed his life in all aspects, features akin to the Count Arthur Strong character. In respect of Dudley’s nod to the much travelled ex-manager Ron Atkinson, Pugh comes to represent all the cliches that managers and pundits come to espouse in the game over the last few years. There are of course other influences, with this book also aiming an arrow firmly at the ‘boy-done-good’ football autobiographies.

As its title suggests, the book does indeed take readers from Hull and its team Hull City to the Nou Camp the home of Spanish giants Barcelona FC via Pugh’s playing and managing exploits. However, in addition to the football related aspects, there are various bizarre tales of song-writing, business interests and his various marriages, with each chapter a mini-story or anecdote in the overall tale. As the book cover itself headlines, this is a “Footballish Story”.

Dudley is clearly a skilled writer which means this is a very readable and in parts amusing adventure. Comedy like music or art, is all about personal taste and therefore whilst one might appreciate a particular form, invariably it can never appeal to everyone. With that in mind, this readers view is that this book is likely to divide opinion.


(Sixty6Media. November 2020. Hardback 278 pages)


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Interview with Warren Dudley, author of Sir Unwin Pugh, From Hull to Camp Nou.

Warren Dudley is an award-winning screenwriter and author from the UK, who has spent all his life living in Seaford, East Sussex, and the surrounding areas. He studied at Tideway School in Newhaven before embarking on a career in print and design.

After a brief dalliance with music in the 1990s with his band steBson, Warren turned to writing and making a small budget movie called Lived with Rick Roberts in the early 2000s. After several more self-made films projects, he got his big break when the opportunity to adapt Dave Roberts’ football memoir The Bromley Boys was handed to him by friend and producer TJ Herbert in 2012. The movie went on to have a successful UK and US cinema run and has garnered critical acclaim. In 2018 he worked with Blair Witch Project director Eduardo Sanchez on a pilot for Sky TV.

In November 2020 he released his first football novel, Sir Unwin Pugh: From Hull to Camp Nou following his debut horror novel in July 2020, Baby Blue: An American horror story. 

Footballbookreviews (FBR): What is your first football memory?

Warren Dudley (WD): My first game was a 4-1 win for Brighton over Manchester City in around 1981 I think (Editors Note: 03 October 1981 – League Division One: Brighton beat City 4-1 at the Goldstone Ground). My first very strong football memory is being 3-0 down at half-time in the 1983 FA Cup Final Replay against Manchester United. I sat in my bedroom aged ten and burst into tears…that’s when it all started.

FBR: You are a Brighton fan, how did this come about, and have you weaved them or their rivals into the Sir Unwin Pugh storyline?

WD: My Dad and Grandad were both big Albion fans so it was inevitable I would be too I guess. It’s been a long and varied 35 years of going to games come rain or shine. Ranging from the fight to keep The Goldstone, away games at Gillingham, the move to the Withdean athletics ground and then on to The Amex. Being in the Premier League now is a very odd, and not always a great experience…the journey was much more fun than the destination. As for our rivals Crystal Palace, there is one chapter dedicated to them in the book. It’s all done with love though!

FBR: How did you get into writing?

WD: I started ‘filmmaking’ about 15 years ago just making little, short-films and ideas. This progressed into writing longer scripts and culminated in me writing a football mock-doc TV pilot called Newhaven Port in 2005-ish. It was on that set where I met TJ Herbert. He went on to become a movie producer and offered me the chance to adapt Dave Roberts fantastic book The Bromley Boys – that was my big break. Since then I have attempted to make writing my living. It’s incredibly tough and I am lucky to have a very patient wife.

FBR: You have previously written a book, “Baby Blue: An American horror story” and now this football related story. How did you come to make the transition between two different genres?

WD: When I look back on my writing ‘career’ it appears I have written something scary and then immediately followed it up with a football palate cleanser. I love both genres but find it hard to keep doing just the one. The horror/thriller stuff is often more commercially viable but not nearly as much fun.

FBR: What was the inspiration for writing the Sir Unwin Pugh book?

WD: I have become quite good mates with Dave Roberts, since I adapted his book for screen. We are always batting ideas backwards and forwards and when I mentioned this he didn’t think it was a terrible idea. I had a look around on Amazon and it didn’t seem to be a very well-trodden path (there could of course be a good reason for that!) For me it’s just a lovely opportunity to write something that gives me a blank canvas to come up with a series of silly footballing anecdotes – something I am always very happy to do…

FBR: Is Sir Unwin Pugh based on anyone?

WD: Not really – he’s one of those slightly posh Alf Ramsay types. Saying that, I was often picturing Paul Whitehouse as Rowley Birkin QC from The Fast Show while writing.

FBR: What are the major differences between screenwriting and writing novels?

WD: It’s been one of the great pleasures of switching from screenwriting to writing books. When you write for the screen you are always thinking about budget and being harassed by producers to keep things tight. When writing a book, if you want to send your main character to manage a team in Borneo you can do just that without worrying about who’s gonna pay for the trip!

FBR: Thank you Warren for your time! All the best with the book.

For more information about Warren, please visit his website

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