The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan

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The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This is the story of a young, Irish boy who is star-struck. His hero is the famous England goalie, Gordon Banks and this book concentrates on how Banksie was inspirational to the young Mullan in troubled Northern Ireland.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 160 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Legend Press Ltd
ISBN: 978-1907756016

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There is a Foreward by both Pele and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Names to make most of us sit up and notice. The title is certainly quirky and Mullan is probably hoping that prospective readers will be saying to themselves, what's this all about then. Good start, I thought. Then I realised that there's an awful lot of football in this book. Even although it's a slim, sliver of a book, there's no getting away from the subject matter. Football. I don't 'do' football. So, I counted to ten, put on what I hoped was a good reviewer's face and started to read ...

We meet the author and subject of the book, Don Mullan living in Northern Ireland. This is a Northern Ireland full of hatred and violence. Early on the reader is informed that Mullan witnessed the carnage that was later to be called Bloody Sunday. Although he was growing up in a pretty normal, loving, working-class family, witnessing the troubles first-hand and at such an impressionable age, made Mullan think long and hard about joining the IRA. But he didn't. Why? In his own words he believes that his passion for football - English football - and his adoration of Banksie, kept him grounded, kept him sane in a way. Perhaps his peers and his family thought this all a bit strange but they were behind him, especially his father. There's a short piece in the book of a unselfish act by his father which is lovely.

Mullan details his childhood, his friends, his home life to an extent. Really, only the odd sentence here and there. Everything he writes is eclipsed by ... yes, football. We start with the World Cup of 1966 - yes, that World Cup. I can only say that Mullan's running commentary of the event is probably as thorough as Kenneth Wolstenholm's (apart from that quote, of course). Then, we're off to Mexico 1970... We stop briefly to comment on the strange affair of Banksie's diet at some crucial stage, then we're off again ...

This book does not talk about anything unless it involves football. Bit of a pity perhaps. Mullan could have chosen to tell us a bit more about his feelings/opinions regarding the political troubles. He does touch on it briefly and it is interesting to hear all this first-hand. Then again, perhaps that's for another time, another book. (He has written other books one covering Bloody Sunday). The middle section has a clutch of black and white football photographs and thereafter what follows is a lengthy interview carried out by the now grown-up Mullan. And the interviewee? Gordon Banks, who else?

This book makes no apology for the fact that it's all about football. That's fine. But even allowing for that, there's not a great deal of substance. We know it's about a young boy's dream but a little bit more meat on the bones would have been good. One for footie fans only. Will it have appeal alongside a glossy book of say, Beckham or Rooney. I would doubt it. I can't see this pet project of a book having universal appeal, I'm afraid.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Where Are They Now? - Rediscovering Over 100 Football Stars of the 70s and 80s by Matt Allen.

Buy The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan at

Buy The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy Who Wanted to Fly by Don Mullan at


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