1981 – a time of unreliable cars, vinyl records, industrial strife and mass unemployment. A team of black amateur footballers, playing for Sabina Park Rangers became the first black team to reach the final of the Watney’s Challenge Cup.
Team coach Horace Mcintosh has more selection problem than most. With single parenthood, gun violence, criminality, drugs and racial prejudice, all obstacles that stood in the way of Horace’s goal of winning the cup. To an outsider it would appear that this talented team of footballers were a cohesive group. Internally Sabina Park Rangers was becoming unravelled, along with the everyday problems of the inner city, rampant jealousy loomed as one of the top players was being courted by a first division team.
More Than A Game is an earthy, ‘street-wise’ and yet a moral tale. It is also a piece of social history that recounts the struggles of the men who were, in many ways, pioneers for the black super-stars of today’s Premier league.
I absolutely love discovering new authors and Ralph Robb is most definitely a new author for me, but he is definitely an author whose work I will definitely be reading in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘More Than A Game’ but more about that in a bit.
This book appealed to me for a few different reasons. Firstly although it is set fairly recently, it’s still classed as historical type fiction (or at least that’s how I see it), which is one of my favourite genres. Secondly, it is set around a football club. Back in the day I used to be mad about football and I practically had a season ticket for my (then) local team. I still like watching the occasional match but nothing like I used to be. So I hope you can appreciate why ‘More Than A Game’ screamed ‘read me’ at me. I couldn’t wait to read the book and so I jumped straight in.
Reading ‘More Than A Game’ really did make me feel as though I had borrowed the Tardis from Doctor Who and I had been transported back to 1980s Britain. I also felt younger as the story takes place when I was two years old. This book describes 1980s Britain perfectly and includes the more unsavoury behaviour of that time. 1980s Britain was Thatcher’s Britain and attitudes from back then were a lot different to those of today. Police brutality was more common, racism was more prevalent, poverty was more rampant and so on. In fact you can definitely draw parallels between 1980s Britain and Britain in 2019. Both time periods are like volcanos about to erupt. Feelings are high and political unrest is bubbling.
It didn’t take me long at all to get into this book. By the time I got to the end of the first chapter, I just knew that this was one book that I would find extremely hard to put down and so it proved to be. I would pick the book up only intending to read a couple of chapters and I would still be sat there over half a dozen chapters later. It seems sort of wrong to say that you enjoy a book with a fair bit of racism and brutality in but I did enjoy reading it because it also shows how tight some communities can be and they are especially tight when the odds are against them.
‘More Than A Game’ is well written. The author has a writing style that is easy to get along with and easy to get used to. He draws you into the story from the first word onwards. He has created such interesting characters that you feel compelled to keep reading (I mean that in the nicest possible way) because you need to know what happens to them characters that have made such an impression on you.
In short, ‘More Than A Game’ is certainly an interesting read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely be reading more of Ralph’s future work. I would recommend this book to other readers. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.