In the heady days of the mid-late 80’s it was a wonderful time to be in your teens. Music and Movies reflected the prevailing global mood (Nena, A-Ha, Rocky 4, Rambo 2, Red Scorpion…). It was good versus evil, us against them, capitalism or communism, right or wrong. Every second could be our last, panicked citizens did nuclear warning drills and I remember being petrified of nuclear holocaust. I even took to storing cans of peas in my wardrobe “just in case”. The movie The Day After rattled this imagination even worse and when the Cold War finally came to an end it turned out that it was all one big con job. Yet we survived it. Growing up in Ireland was unusual as we were neither one thing or the other, enjoying our American influences but playing the socialism card when it suited. Sports were no exception to this. We sent out our athletes to be overpowered by drugged up super athletes and reveled in the role of lovable loser. There for the craic. Happy to be alive and getting by on the minimum. This changed one November night, as the rain poured behind the Iron Curtain. A cataclysmic event that gave the Irish nation across the world a reason to hope, a reason to have a party. A Scottish player volleyed an unlikely winner to send Ireland to the Euro ’88, the rest is glorious history.
But Irish teams, young and old, had been traveling to Europe and behind the Iron Curtain for decades, some luckier than others. The almost annual pilgrimage to Poland for soccer friendlies was the cause of many furrowed brows, yet continental Europe sat easier with the Irish than our neighbours across the Irish Sea. It was exotic yet familiar, we’d conquered it before and always had an eye to expand there when the chance arose. So this is just where soccer played a massive role in Irish infiltration into Europe and to demolish the Berlin Wall.
Over a decade ago, while living and working in Germany, I began work on a manuscript that I completed in 2001. It was a compilation of group and sports travel between 1986-88 that I put into a fictional account of an Irish school soccer team touring Europe, West and East. It lay dormant until this year when I looked for a way to raise some much needed funds for a kindergarden sports project in the Russian city of Ulyanovsk. I’d been able to get material donations from the sports world for them, and twist some political arms for help, but to put the finishing touches needed cold hard cash. Well I dug up the manuscript, closed my eyes and e-published. So far, so good, right? Well, yes, it’s the first in a series of 4 books that follows this soccer team and their exploits, and what happens after their tour. What to do with promoting it? Let soccer fans know. Not alone the good cause side of it, the novelty of a soccer fiction story that is light, light-hearted and in parts funny. We’ve all been there, away with a team or group and what seemed like a great idea usually doesn’t seem so great when you’re sitting explaining to the police why 15 athletes thought it was so fun to streak down the high street of a well known English market town. Or why tying your semi-conscious goalkeeper to a goalpost on his birthday would be so difficult for the RCMP to understand. Or even why New York’s finest thought it appalling that a bored soccer team would have a kick around at the corner of East 23rd and Madison Avenue. Of course for there I wasn’t there, probably.
So for this first, and I hope not last, post I’d like to ask readers to spread the word of the book, have a read of the sample and if it catches your attention, then you’ll know the e-book you bought is going towards allowing kids to enjoy sports as they should be enjoyed!