1889 Books


1889 Books

1889 Books is a labour of love. A love of books, a love of football and a love of
the underdog – preferably all rolled into one.

I believe in fair shares for fair effort. Publishers who only give authors the standard 10% return on their effort are the equivalent of sweat shop owners – the big publishers are battling to preserve an outdated, bloated model where wealth is preserved in a few hands. Independent publishing does not have to go hand in hand with reduced quality, as they’d have you believe.

Football themed books are just a part of what I do. I reckon to know a thing or two about football novelshaving read and reviewed over 60 of them here at SteveK1889

I was once told by a literary agent that a novel based around football isn’t marketable
because football fans won’t read fiction; they lap up biographies and autobiographies (almost entirely ghost-written, and works of fiction in themselves?) but not novels. There is a myth that football novels can only be like Roy of the Rovers – i.e. not worth reading unless you’re a nut. But the best football fiction only uses football as a backdrop to life. After all, no one says I don’t live in the countryside so I won’t read Tess of the D’urbervilles because it is a “farming novel,” or I don’t like the Police so I am not reading Ian Rankin!

Here are some of my titles:

The Lives Of Stanley B

Mat is an established writer on the game and this is his first novel (there is another in the pipeline).

TheLives of Stanley B is as good a football novel as you’ll read anywhere. It proves the point, I believe, that you don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate fiction like this. The story threads of four main characters are deftly woven together, and it is a boat – the Stanley B – itself a survivor, at the centre. All the characters share a love of the game and its power as a diversion from the harsher realities of life. Forget Fever Pitch, The Lives of Stanley B gets to the heart of why football matters – written by an author who actually understands the game.

Mat’s other books are:  Barcelona to Buckie Thistle, Minnows United: Adventures at the Fringes of the Beautiful Game, and Another Bloody Saturday. 



I have also been proud to work with another established football writer, Gary Thacker, on his two football novels, The Games People Play and A Whole New Ball Game. These novels follow an English coach in the lower leagues of Spanish football and his relationships, his successes and defeats both on and off the pitch. It is great escapist fiction, perhaps for your summer holidays by the pool.

Gary’s other books are: I Don’t Even Smoke! – A brief history of life, love and football through blue-tinted glasses. Oh yes, and a cigar.

Cheers, Tears & Jeers – A History of England and the World Cup, and

Beautiful Bridesmaids Dressed in Oranje: The Unfulfilled glory of Dutch Football

I published But He Got the Ball Ref because I was looking for a book on the Laws of the Game for my son and couldn’t find one. There didn’t seem to be a book to explain the laws in an easy way for people to understand. It was also born out of a frustration with fellow fans (and pundits) not understanding things like what constitutes a red card “That wasn’t a red card for me, Jeff. He clearly goes for the ball.” So many people think they know what the laws say, but as soon as they open their mouths to shout abuse their ignorance is apparent. With lots of illustrations to make it simple for even the thickest of ex-footballers parading similar ignorance on prime-time TV, it is full of my little prejudices – and I hope it amuses.

Historical Football Stories is a collection of the oldest football fiction in the world, plus a couple of new stories inspired by the originals. The original stories were published in 1905 – some are great little stories, others are fascinating for the insights they provide into the early game. They include an early PG Wodehouse story.   

The Evergreen in red and white is where it started for me. It tells the fictionalised story of a Sheffield United legend who was part of the team who were the best in the country in 1897/98. The first professional Romani footballer, who went on to play for Liverpool and Preston. I spent the best part of 2000 hours researching and writing it, and when I struggled to find a publisher to have faith in me, I decided to go it alone. It was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Indie award in 2015. It is only a football novel in so a far as the main character is a footballer, but it is about so much more. 

Sharpe as a Blade is a book like no other. It is an honest, first-hand warts-and-all memoir of a working class journey from the backstreet terraces of the 50s to the football terraces of the 60s and 70s. It’s all here: the swinging sixties, the birth of the British beat boom that conquered the world, the heady days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, through to the 70s where rock stars sparkled, new wave garage bands preached anarchy, and football violence escalated out of control. There is no sugar-coating in the story of this ex-terrace legend. Most publishers would not dare.

Sharpe As A Blade

All books are avaialble at www.1889books.co.uk

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