Monday, 24 September 2007

The Curse of the Bromley Boys?

Now I'm not superstitious. Actually, that's a lie -- of course I'm superstitious, I'm a football fan. And I can't help noticing that since taking on The Bromley Boys, my own football team, York City, have started taking on Bromley Boys type characteristics. Having narrowly failed to reach the Wembley play-off final back in May, they're now down among the dead man of the Conference (I can't bring myself to call it the Blue Square Premier). Their record so far this season reads

P11 W2 D2 L7 GD-9 Pts8.

I would say that if this goes on, they'll be playing Bromley themselves next season. Except that regional differences means that York would be relegated to the Conference North division. And besides, Bromley, currently lying in 6th place in the Conference South division may well be promoted in their place.

Next time, I'm doing a book on Manchester United...

Read All Abaht It

The latest edition of Writers' News has landed on my desk and I'm delighted to see that Dave's book has made the front page. Under the heading 'Subscriber Shares Terrace Tales', the piece is all about Dave and the story of this story of a book. I'm particularly pleased because Dave first contacted me because of a previous interview I'd done with the magazine a year ago --which just goes to show that unsolicited books do get bought. I'm slightly embarrassed about my mug shot on page 2, but at least it should stop too many submissions heading my way.
It's an excellent magazine, by the way, and I'm not just saying that because they've printed a nice story about Dave. I do think that publishing can sometimes feel a little daunting, but there's lots of good advice and ideas here that I wish I'd known about when I was starting out. Very much worth a read for would-be (and actual) writers everywhere.

Half Time Team Talk

It's taken me longer than I would have liked to have got round to reading Dave's 'story so far' material -- see my other blog, for the boring details. But it was very much worth the wait. There's about 170-odd pages, down, so in footballing terms, we've pretty much hit half-time. Continuing my tortuous analogy (it's a football book, so I think I'm allowed), I would say Dave has gone in at the break in front, and in terms of the second half, my tactics talk is almost Sven like. More of the same, no complacency, your game to lose, hello Ulrika. OK, so maybe not the Ulrika bit.
My one serious point to Dave was over the structure -- at the moment the material isn't really divided down into chapters, and at some point this needs to be addressed. But because the writing is flowing so well, and Dave is clearly enjoying writing it, I'd rather he got to the end, and then we can sit about shaping the book once the whole manuscript is in.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The original synopsis

This was the synopsis I sent to Portico in early February:


it's a true story about supporting Bromley, a perennially underachieving non-league team during their infamous 1969-1970 season which was one of the worst on record.

The results of their first 5 games were 0-5, 1-4, 1-6, 0-8 and 1-6. The last 18 games were lost, apart from a draw in the Kent Senior Cup. Bromley lost the replay.

It's about shifting hopes and expectations, which were constantly revised downwards. Eventually, a defeat by less than 3 goals was considered a triumph.

Throughout these dark days of appalling football played out to ever-decreasing crowds, two fans were ever-present. Me at 14, full of passion for the team which had done nothing but let me down, and a solitary figure in his mid teens, who was always on his own behind the goal, cup of tea in one hand, cigarette in the other.He was immediately identifiable by his trench coat and long ginger hair and was known only as The Grubby. Eventually, The Grubby and I would form an unlikely friendship.

This book is about how football prepared us for life by teaching us that if you expect the worst to happen, you won't be disappointed.

It's about how failure was such a part of our lives that a Sunday league team formed by a core of Bromley supporters was even worse than the team they supported. Losing a game 21-0 to 10 men was a game I still remember vividly.

It's about flirting unsuccessfully with football hooliganism.

It's about being the only Bromley supporter in a school full of Arsenal fans.

It's about total obsession with my team - like trying to persuade my dad to move to Downham, so we could have our mail delivered by Pat Brown, the star centre half whose day job was postman. And always taking my boots and shin pads to away games in my duffel bag, just in case a player or two got lost on the way or had a car crash.

I saw all but two of those 47 games league, cup and friendly games that season - starting with the pre-season West Ham fixture, where I slightly overestimated the interest in the game and turned up at 8 am to be sure of a seat. No-one else arrived until 1.25.

Bromley weren't just bad, they were awful. They were locked in a perpetual struggle with Corinthian Casuals to avoid bottom place. Casuals were a bizarre team. Not only were their shirts pink and chocolate quarters, but they stuck to a charmingly outmoded ideal of playing the game for the love of it and were resolutely amateur. As you'd imagine, this didn't help them attract the best players.

This is the opposite of Fever Pitch. This is about being cursed with a local team of relentless ineptitude, yet being unable to stop loving them.

It should particularly appeal to the baby boomers who are fed up with big money Premiership prima donnas, and the greed and cynicism which has become part of the game.


I'm Dave Roberts, a 51 year old advertising copywriter who worked in Leeds and Manchester, before moving to New Zealand in the 1980s.
I have written two books - the first, an "as told to" cricket book, and another called ' e-luv- an internet romance' ( published by Friday Books ) , which is currently part of the Waterstone's Valentine's Day promotion.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

A sense of time and place

I never really realised how much research would be involved in writing this book. Apart from all the Bromley programmes and match reports for the season, I've had to get hold of boys' football magazines from 1969 and 1970, ads for football boots from the same time, music charts, TV listings, find out what sweets were popular at the time, find articles on hooliganism and look through the big news stories from the years in question.
The most valuable resource for getting a sense of time and place has been a DVD of the BBC's "The Rock'n'Roll Years". This is basically just news footage set to music from the year in question, but triggered all sorts of memories - many of which have ended up in the book.

The latest chapters have been sent.

I have now sent Tom the next 30,000 words of The Bromley Boys and am taking a break to recharge the batteries. Also, I need to make sure he's happy with the direction I've taken before I carry on. While the latest batch sticks fairly closely to the chapter outlines I showed Tom originally, some story lines have disappeared and others taken their places. In many ways, this part is even more nerve wracking than waiting to hear if a publisher is interested. I don't think you ever really know if other people will find the same things as funny as you do.