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Whatever Happened to Billy Parks

by Gareth R Roberts

Is there life after football? The old, too-familiar story of wasted talent off the pitch is given a ‘what if’ re-write in this tale of the rise and fall of Billy Parks. Fantasy is woven with reality in a nostalgic retrospective of the 60s and 70s, with cameo appearances from the likes of Brian Clough. Touchingly convincing and hugely engaging whether you're a football fan or not.

Extract

'I don't normally go for Cockneys, young man,' he told me, 'but myself and my pal Peter Taylor think that you've got what it takes to be a great player. What do you think about that?'
I didn't know what to say. I was confused. I hadn't thought about leaving West Ham. I felt guilty just talking about it.
'I'm not sure, Mr. Clough,' I said. 'This has come as a bit of a shock.'
'I'll tell you what,' said Brian Clough. 'I'll kip down on your couch and you go upstairs with your young lady and sleep on it. And we'll finalise things in the morning.'
'Er, OK.'
I then watched as Brian Clough took himself into our lounge with a quilt that Sandi had given him and closed the door. I put one foot on the stairs; I didn't know what to think. I wasn't sure that I wanted to go to Derby County. I wasn't sure about anything ...
When I got back the next morning, Brian Clough was gone. Sandi was furious - I told her that it was the only way I was able to get away from him, and that otherwise we'd have to sell our little house and move to Derby, which was practically in Scotland. It was never mentioned again.

Parallels

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
That Damned United by David Peace
 

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