This is a book about more than football of course, but for this reader the most evocative and emotional moment comes when Roberts describes a game of park football in which Billy Parks first recognises his god given talent for leaving defenders floundering in his wake. I read that scene with a lump in my throat recalling timeless moments as a young lad on the local football pitches of my home town, the kickabouts with other lads, the jumpers for goalposts, the evenings we never wanted to end. Enough to make a grown man cry with melancholy and nostalgia. Perhaps we were lucky our dreams of playing professionally ended there. Perhaps stories of players like Gascoigne and Best, Brian Rice and Billy Parks are there to remind us that not every fairy story ends with a fairytale ending.
Scott Pack knows a good book when he sees it, as do the people at the Jerwood Prize who recently handed Gareth Roberts their 'Fiction Uncovered' Prize.