The Bromley Boys by Dave Roberts
|The Bromley Boys by Dave Roberts|
|Reviewer: Paul Curd|
|Summary: A hilarious account of one boy's year of growing up while supporting the worst football team in Britain. A must-read for any football supporter.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: August 2008|
Most football fans (except my brother, who refuses to have anything to do with anything that has anything to do with the Arsenal) will have read Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. It's the definitive book on what it's like to be a bloke who also supports a football team. It's also quite funny. It influenced every subsequent book about what it's like to be a football supporter. It also gave birth to a genre of writing that was subsequently termed 'lad lit'. Despite its imitators, nothing has been as good as Fever Pitch. Until now.
Okay, Dave Roberts may not be in the same literary class as Nick Hornby. But The Bromley Boys (billed as 'the true story of supporting the worst team in Britain') is well written enough, and it captures absolutely to a T what it is like to be a pre-pubescent football-mad boy. It is also laugh-out-loud funny.
The book takes us back to the 1969–70 season. Dave Roberts was 14 years old, a slightly tubby child with unflattering collar-length hair and a voice that hadn't yet broken. Dave took up supporting Bromley because they played a short walk from his house and his parents wouldn't let him go to watch West Ham on his own. As the new season loomed, 14-year-old Dave was feeling confident about Bromley's prospects. The previous season had been a 'pretty good one' (they had finished 17th out of 20 in the Isthmian League) and, on the strength of the team having actually taken a 1–0 lead in a pre-season friendly against a West Ham reserve team (they eventually lost 1–3) Dave was predicting a top-five finish.
We know better. The book is a catalogue of the weekly humiliation suffered at the feet of such teams as Wealdstone, Kingstonian and the mighty Barking. None of these defeats dents young Dave's enthusiasm or dogged support for his team (although he does call for the resignation of the team's manager, sporting an 'Ellis Must Go' t-shirt to a match in one of the book's early hilarious episodes).
Just as I did (did every kid do this?) Dave takes his football boots to matches, just in case one of the players doesn't turn up and an urgent appeal goes out for a replacement from among the supporters. He longs for the day when he will be allowed to watch a match from the Supporters Club hut.
As a sub-plot to the football, Dave also recounts with equal humour his problems at school and the start of his journey to adulthood. But throughout the book, it is the football that takes pride of place. And although the team I supported in the 1960s were then and still are one of the top teams in the country, my experiences of being a football supporter at the time are almost identical to Dave's. It's a universal condition, it seems. Dave Roberts' memoir will strike a chord with every football supporter, whichever team they follow.
The Bromley Boys is a real treat. The fact that it is not a book about a top-class football team is a plus point, too. Because Bromley Football Club aren't big enough to be disliked by supporters of other football clubs the book will even appeal to the most partisan of supporters (like my brother). And, best of all, The Bromley Boys is a hilariously funny read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you're sure to enjoy Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, but have a look at You'll Win Nothing With Kids by Jim White.
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