The Bromley Boys by Dave Roberts
Release date: 05th September, 2008
Publisher: Portico Publishing
Our Price: £7.69
You Save: £5.3 (40%)
The Bromley Boys
By Dave Roberts
4sportsbooks.co.uk price: Â£7.69, saving 40% on rrp
Most of us have a measure of what constitutes a genuine football supporter. It's easy to support the leading sides - they're never off the box, so it's possible to follow their matches all season - but I would suggest this form of 'support' is that of the a football enthusiast, a follower, but not the real deal. Of course, there are supporters of big clubs who recall when their side was in the doldrums, but sadly, they're a diminishing band.
Admittedly, opting to support a not-so-glamorous football team could be the result of a strong masochistic streak, but it is generally governed by your place of birth. Even then, temptation is ever-present: why follow Rochdale when you could easily get to Old Trafford, and surely the prospect of football at Anfield is considerably more appealing than at Tranmere's Prenton Park?
For Dave Roberts, there was only one love. Despite living within striking distance of any number of south London's Football League clubs, he chose Bromley, his local side, then plying their trade in front of a few hundred people in the Isthmian League.
Roberts is a genuine football fan and this marvellous memoir is a must read, not just for those who ignore the top flight siren calls to follow their local club, but also for fans who might just be getting a little tired of the Premier League's achingly dull repetitiveness.
In The Bromley Boys Roberts gives us (as far as he can recall), the highlights and low-lights of Bromley FC's 1969/70 season which, by any standards, was a bad one for his heroes.
Roberts recounts his feelings before and after each fixture: from the inevitable tension as he wishes the days away before another Saturday laden with hope dawns, to the despair he endures when beloved Bromley suffer another defeat. He was not the first 14 year-old to take his boots to every home match in case his men are short and he's called upon to take the field - even though he admits to not being a very good player, but he's the first to write about it so convincingly.
Running adjacent to his football support is the seemingly complicated life of a normal, shy adolescent and Roberts peppers his text with wonderful anecdotes (how can your trousers fall down in a maths lesson and how do you explain to a mate that you fancy his sister?) We laugh not at Roberts' occasional misfortune (and certainly not at Bromley's desperate season), but because the reader enjoys an almost immediate empathy with the author, we laugh with him.
For anyone over the age of 35, this is the type of book you could read on a train and suddenly burst out laughing, drawing disapproving glances from your fellow passengers. Aside from Roberts' meticulous presentation of a very indifferent season for Bromley almost 40 years ago, his book is also exceedingly funny.
Although shelves in high street booksellers are weighed down with the latest "autobiography" of footballers unlikely ever to apply for Mensa membership, or with another hastily-prepared 'celebration' of clubs rich enough to focus on 'brand management', you should ignore them and seek out Dave Roberts' excellent effort. You will not be disappointed, for it ranks among the very best books with a sporting theme; after reading it, you may even decide to go and watch your local side play.
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