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The Boy on the Shed By Paul Ferris

Release date: 23rd February, 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Staughton

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £13.60
You Save: £3.39 (19%)
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An early contender for sports book of the year, The Boy on the Shed is not only a great story of a man who came tantalisingly close to making it as a top-flight footballer (and went on to achieve so much else besides), but is simultaneously engaging, well-paced and, like the very best stories, well written.

Readers develop an immediate empathy with author Paul Ferris after he begins by describing the day he came perilously close to death. Though the incident he retells is pivotal to his subsequent life, Ferris instead looks backwards and uses it as a means of introducing a dream-like reference to his Northern Ireland birthplace, his mother and his willingness to watch over her by sitting on the shed roof opposite her kitchen.

As openings to sporting memoirs go, this is completely different; it certainly had this reader hooked. Remarkably, given such a strong introduction, Ferris’s storytelling ability never waivers, whether he’s reliving the daily consequences of sectarianism, growing up in a Catholic family living on a predominantly Protestant estate in Lisburn during the 1970s troubles, or preparing to make his Newcastle United debut at the age of 16.

Not surprisingly, Ferris was constantly likened to another slightly-built Northern Irishman, George Best, but the author was not as lucky with injury as his famed predecessor. Forced to abandon his desperate attempt to become an established professional footballer, Ferris’s love of the game propelled him into physiotherapy and he later returned to St James’s Park as part of the club’s medical staff.

Meanwhile, he studied for and was awarded a Masters degree, an achievement that resulted in a further change of career direction, one which ultimately saw him qualify as a barrister. Adding to this impressive CV he is, as Alan Shearer writes in a heartfelt foreword, a writer.

Paul Ferris has encountered and overcome numerous obstacles, some more serious than others. You’re left with the impression that he could only have done so by being consistently positive, an attribute which accounts for this book’s ultimately uplifting nature.


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