I’m always suspicious about self published books. A school friend’s dad once published his own book and spent the next few years selling them to every parent in the playground. The problem was it was mind bendingly rubbish and said ‘fuck’ way too much, especially for a man who is your friend’s dad.
Now with the introduction of e-books and the rise of the Kindle, it’s easier to secure a ‘book deal’. I’m still abstaining from buying a Kindle as it will render the bookshelf extinct and then what will Ikea do?? So it’s fair to say I entered this book review with a little trepidation.
Away End started as a website three years ago by the author Dean Mansell. Dean, a Chesterfield fan, created the site for fans to share their away day stories.
All football fans have stories about their visits to other clubs and this book gives those fans that voice. I have an image burned into my memory of a Rotherham United fan trying to stick his tongue down my throat at a pre-season friendly at Millmoor. I was about 15 and he’d bought me a Bovril. Apparently that allows you ‘special access’ to a lady’s tonsils in Rovrum.
One of the stories in The Away End, ‘Teenage Terrace Romance’ is slightly more Romeo and Juliet than my own experience. The story of star crossed teenage lovers, him a Burnley fan, her a Carlisle supporter and what happens when thousands of home fans intervene in the course of true love. It’s quite a sweet story.
The stories aren’t all about away matches which is slightly misleading and they’re not all technically stories. Some, like ‘Bristol in the Toilets’, are more statements of fact.
This book is like a snack sized bag of Revels that can be nibbled at or devoured in one go. There are going to be some tales that give you the flavour of being at that game with the writer like ‘Big Tam’ and ‘Rocking at Thorpe Station’ but there are others that leave a bad taste in your mouth like ‘Brighton’s Rock’ and ‘Don’t Show Me Up Woman’. I get the feeling that these are men that watch Chubby Brown DVD’s and potentially now have a Football Banning Order certificate with their name on it.
Maybe it’s more of a ‘blokes’ book than anything. The majority of stories are about being pissed or having a piss and there is a certain air of being in the pub with your mates, telling stories about when they were too drunk to watch Oldham away. The author himself does say that the language is ‘industrial’ but he ‘thought it was important to let the fans tell them (the stories) in their own special way.’
I really wanted to like this book because I think the premise is good, I just think some of the stories are less than articulate and better left in the pub than in print. It’s definitely not mind bendingly rubbish, it does say ‘fuck’ an awful lot but at least it’s not written by any of my family friends!
Dean’s book is available to buy at Amazon and in the Chesterfield and Sheffield Wednesday club shops.