Sunday 4 May 2014

Review ~ Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? by Gareth R. Roberts.

Title: Whatever Happened to Billy Parks?
Author: Gareth R. Roberts.
Release Date: October 15, 2013.
Source: Bought.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

A vivid and engaging story of wasted talent, second chances, family, friendship, and, of course, the beautiful game.

October 17th 1973: the greatest disaster in the history of English football.

All England had to do was beat Poland to qualify for the World Cup.

They didn’t.

They could only draw.

Left on the bench that night was a now forgotten genius, West Ham’s Billy Parks: beautiful, gifted and totally flawed.

Fast-forward forty years, Billy’s life is a testament to wasted talent. His liver is failing and he earns his money selling football memories on the after-dinner circuit to anyone who’ll listen and buy him a drink. His family has deserted him and his friends are tired of his lies and excuses.

But what if he could be given a second chance? What if he could go back in time and win the game for England? What if he was able to undo the pain he’d caused his loved ones? The Council of Football Immortals can give him that chance, just as long as he can justify himself, and his life, to them.

This is the story of Billy Parks: a man who bore his genius like a dead weight and who now craves that most precious of things – the chance to put things right.

Whatever Happened to Billy Parks is the ultimate footballing fantasy. How many players would love to go back to that one moment - that penalty miss, that sending off, the wasted chance – and change it? What if changing it could change your life completely, and the life of everyone you’ve ever known? The concept was fantastic and so was the book – brilliantly engaging and clever.

Billy Parks is a fictional footballer created by the author. But honestly I doubted that at times throughout the book. Billy was so believable and felt so real. He was by no means a hero, except maybe to those West Ham fans who adored him on the pitch. His life is tragic, mistake after mistake but I was rooting for him and his moving story.

As the story flawlessly brought flashbacks from his current life – the alcoholism and the opportunity bestowed by The Council of Football Immortals, to his past life – the football, the relationships he had and the bad choices he made, the author effortlessly drew me in to this captivating story. The writing was spectacular, an emotional story mixed with humour, home-truths and a chance to reminisce on the football of old (or learn, since I was born into modern football).

I was in suspense throughout as to which direction Billy Parks’ life was going to head in next. Whatever Happened to Billy Parks was class, a perfect book for football fans but possesses qualities that make it a great read for the strange people with no interest in the sport too. Billy Parks’ fictional story was much more interesting than a lot of real biographies and the writing was better too. A brilliant book.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

1 comment:

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