Monday, 19 January 2009

Off Side

Years ago I bought a book called Off Side by Manuel Vazquez Montalban. It's about an English centre forward playing in Spain - and threats made against him. I started reading it last night. It's great. Really dark and menacing. And written beautifully. More of a book for adults, though.

It's weird: all I seem to be reading is football books. I normally read much wider. What am I reading next? Gazza's autobiography.

A good weekend for football. Leeds won again. And - so far - we've held onto our superstar 19 year old, Fabian Delph. But for how long?

And what about Man City? It's interesting to see all these players come in. Tonight the Kaka transfer is in the balance. I'd be surprised if it went through. But then I never thought Robhino would go to Man City.

I actually like Man City. Whenever I meet their fans at the author events I do, they always talk a lot of sense. They know their football too. The ones I meet anyway.

If you want to read a good football story by a Man City fan, read Anthony McGowan's The Bare Bum Gang and the Football Face Off. Aimed at 7-11 year olds, it's funny and has a great ending.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

FIFA 09 update

I'm still playing too much FIFA 09 on my PSP. I did it all the way home on the train from London last night. That and reading a book about football in South Africa.

It's a good book. About how dozens of political prisoners created a football league in prison and played for years to try and cope with being away from their familes. It's called More Than a Game.

I'm on the third highest FIFA 09 level (i.e. one up from rubbish) and Leeds are about to secure promotion. I just need two wins out of four. I should do it. Then on to the Championship.

Arsenal Player

I had to face a penalty from an Arsenal player yesterday. Twice.

I was in Redbridge, which is a part of London. Ninety 10 year olds. Ten of them taking penalties. Then one lad tells me he plays for Arsenal.

He took two shots... And scored twice.

To be honest I didn't see either ball. I had some revenge on him, though. I was writing a scene in book 5 of my Football Academy series today. And Arsenal lost on penalties.

I've nearly finished the Football Academy series now. It starts in April with Boys United and Striking Out. Each book is about a different player at United, a Premier League under twelve team.

In Boys United Jake joins the team and finds it hard to fit in. Mostly because he's a City fan.

In Striking Out Yunis's dad wants him to give up playing for United. He thinks the football is interfering with Yunis' school work.

Books three and four are out in July. Followed by two more in the autumn.

But why am I facing penalties anyway?

When I go to schools I don't just talk about my books. I like to do a football quiz. Then a penalty shoot out. The winner gets a football trophy. It's more fun than me just talking about my books. The best bit is that I get tips about other books to read.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mob Football

I did my first event of the year today. At Moorside Community College. It was great. Lots of Newcastle fans taking penalties at the school librarian, Miss Horth. She was very good, saving quite a few. She also looked after me really well.

It was useful in more ways than one to meet the pupils at Moorside. I told them about an idea I have for a book that is coming out next year. One of the girls said that she liked books with stories that have something of today and something from history in them. So I think I'm going to include something about mob football in the book.

I'm a bit obsessed with mob football. I read about it while writing a book for Franklin Watts last year. The book is about football, with lots of facts. It's called Go Turbo: Football and comes out in August.

Mob football was played in medieval times in England. A whole village would take on another village. The aim was to get the ball to the next town's market square. You could break legs, whatever... there were no rules.

I live in a small town on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border. I think it'd be a good laugh to play the Lancashire town at mob football. Maybe one day. But without the leg breaking.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Spurs v Burnley

No offence to Spurs fans, but I'm backing Burnley tonight.

Burnley FC have been really good to me. Even though I live in Yorkshire - and support Leeds - Burnley are my nearest football club.

When I was researching my new series - Football Academy, which comes out on April 2nd - Burnley let me go and watch their under twelve side, talk to the players and the parents. And the coaches were great: they told me lots about how a professional football team's academy works.

Football Academy is about the under twelve side at a fictional Premier League club called United. Every book is about one of the boys, but all the players get a mention in each book. The first is called Boys United and is about Jake, who joins the team at the beginning of the season. He gets a bit of trouble from one of the other players. Mostly because he supports City, not United.

But back to the game...

Also, you have to support Burnley, as they are the underdog. They've seen off Arsenal and Chelsea already. All by a small town club with a lot of ambition.

Monday, 5 January 2009

PSP 1-0 Football Academy

I started the rewrites of Football Academy book 5 today. It needs a bit of work. It's about a boy and his dad. The dad used to be an England player: the boy plays for United's under twelve's. I read it through today and had a look at where I needed to make changes. It's only the last quarter that needs serious work...

... but the problem is I got a PSP for Christmas. With FIFA 09 on it.

I have been playing it a lot since Christmas and today found it hard to get back to writing. So I decided to write for an hour, then play one game. That worked well for the first couple of hours, then things deteriorated. I was on a cup run.

This afternoon Leeds United beat Hull City 11-3 in the League Cup Final. If only...

What else did I get for Christmas?

* a radio-controlled polystyrene aeroplane
* a blow-football game
* a book on how to be a good dad
* twelve pairs of black socks
* a lunar calendar
* ten quid and a wine cooler off my sister
* some carpet slippers off my wife
* a fair trade football
* a score draw at home to Leicester

No books, though. Apart from the one above.