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Whatever Happened to Billy Parks [Paperback]

Gareth Roberts
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.06 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

16 Jan 2014

2014 JERWOOD FICTION UNCOVERED PRIZE WINNER

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2014 GORDON BURN PRIZE

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.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Friday Project (16 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007531516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007531516
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘An engaging story of wasted talent, second chances and the beautiful game’ THE SUN

‘A unique tale of sporting redemption *****’ FOUR FOUR TWO

‘Billy Parks should go down in folklore as a footballing immortal. His story deserves to sit alongside David Peace’s “The Damned Utd”. It really is that good’ PHIL EARLE, author of BEING BILLY

About the Author

Gareth R Roberts was born in Llangollen and brought up in Llandudno in North Wales.

He studied Politics at the LSE, and spent seven years working as a speech writer and researcher in the Houses of Parliament.

In 1997, he decided that he’d had enough of politics and re-trained for the Bar, being called by Grays Inn and commencing as a criminal barrister in 1999 in Chambers in Chester.

In 2005 he wrote his first novel, That Immortal Jukebox Sensation, a dark comedy about a solicitor who decides that he wants to kill a pop-star.

His new novel ‘Whatever Happened To Billy Parks?’ is due to be published by The Friday Project, an imprint of Harper Collins, as an e-book in October 2013 and a conventional book in January 2014.

Gareth is married to Ines and has three sons.

In his younger days he played rugby for North Wales and was a sprinter, once holding the North Wales schoolboy records for the 100 and 200m. He also blogs under the name Ray North for the politics, music and sport website www.Allthatsleft.co.uk.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Pies and Bovril. 16 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Whatever Happened to Billy Parks

Do you remember Malcolm Macdonald and Billy Bremner, Jimmy Greaves and Jinky Smith, and the football professionals who smoked cigarettes at half time and would take an odd pint down the working men's clubs or the local pub and would quite freely talk about the game and where it went wrong without an agent on their right hand shoulder and a club press officer on the other? Remember when footballers talked with each other and played cards on the away bus instead of sulking and wearing headphones that are waaayyyyy to big. Do you remember when men were men and if a footballer took a hard knock he tried not to show his opponent that the the bastard had actually hurt him. Do you remember the bloke who sold the peanuts and cold pies and bovril at half time, and four hours each way with your mates in the back lane before Sky TV ever realised that Sunday was a football day?
If so this book is for you.
But Gareth R Roberts second published novel has so much more than a little nostalgia, in fact this novel has just about everything it takes for the average football fan to immerse themselves into a fantasy that at times takes the breath away. Roberts tackles a tricky subject with humour, sympathy and passion and makes the reader more than aware that yesteryear's footballers not only missed the financial gravy train but at times were woefully neglected and many cast onto the scrapheap, broken, crippled and destitute. It's difficult to put into words just what this book is all about and if I did I'd give the game away anyway!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Football fantasy for football fans 19 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm going to start this review with a bottom line; if you consider yourself to be a football fan, you should buy this book and read it. You will enjoy it. A lot.

Now I'm going to explain why. As can be deduced from the title, Whatever Happened To Billy Parks tells the story of a fictional footballer called Billy Parks, a player from the 1970s who was one of the most gifted of his generation. He was left on the bench for the England v Poland match in 1973. A match which England needed to win, but could only draw. The book opens in the present day, with Billy struggling to make a living, battling alcoholism, his family having long since deserted him. Yet at this late stage he may finally get the one thing that he truly craves; a second chance to undo the pain he's caused to his family, win the game for England, and become a legend.

I will freely admit that despite reading a lot of books generally, I have read very few books about football, a sport which otherwise takes up a great deal of my time. And none of the football books that I have read have been fictional. So as I started to read this book I was somewhat skeptical about how a book about a fictional player could really interest me, and make me care enough both to be overjoyed at the highs and sad at the lows of this talented yet tragic figure.

But it did. In the hours that I spent reading this book I found myself wanting to punch the air at some of the match descriptions, only to be sad at the real personal tragedy that followed, and all the while regularly laughing at some of the truly fantastic anecdotes and humour about real players both past and present.

It's difficult to say exactly why this book had such an effect of me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 8 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback
Just read Gareth Robert's novel in one sitting - started it on a cross country flight, and couldn't stop until it was done. Brilliant reading, can't stop thinking about the ending. Whether you are a football (soccer, we call it) fan or not. If you love good storytelling, you will love this book. Gareth might have a second career in writing, but even if he doesn't write another book he's left a tremendous legacy in this one. Read it. Legit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harks back to a bygone era, an excellent read 2 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback
Fantastic book by a new author, who is certainly one to watch for the future. Funny, sad, poignant and evoking a sense of a time gone by when footballers were "proper men". Get it you won't be disappointed, am looking forward to the author's next novel already.
Incidentally I found the review by Keith below amusing comlaining it read more like a novel than a biography....hahaha.........what a doughnut!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly engaging story 17 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story was so much more than I was expecting it to be. I always knew that it would be beautifully written, intelligent and insightful. What I hadn't anticipated was the depth of the storytelling and the power of it. It looks at the beautiful game from a very interesting angle. I thoroughly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read and not just for footie fans 4 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a bit dubious about whether this book would appeal to women not particularly interested in " the beautiful game" as it's so often referred to in my household but I absolutely loved it. It's dark, funny, you feel for the main character and it's everything you want in a novel - I couldn't put it down. A great read and I will be recommending it to my book club girlfriends!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking!
Another excellent book by this author. If this doesn't make you think then you've got no soul? The characterisations are excellent- you can feel the characters as if they're with... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Des Parry
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sophie
5.0 out of 5 stars Devoured it in one sitting...
...even though I was supposed to be at work!

I downloaded the e-book to start in my lunch break but couldn't bear to stop reading so finished it by three pm. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. David Stainton
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful surprise for a non-footy fan!
I read this book because it was a book club choice and was not expecting to enjoy it as I have no real interest in or knowledge about football. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AVB
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant.
Hard to articulate just what a brilliant book this is.
Billy should be easy to dislike, but such is the quality of the storytelling that you can't help but fall in love with... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura Earle
5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of flawed genius
Really enjoyable read. Full of tales of hoped redemption, you don't need to be a football fan to love this story. Excellent work Mr Roberts
Published 3 months ago by Eee&Tee
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAZIL 1950+SCOTLAND 1978+ENGLAND 1973= LOVE FOR THE UNLOVED
THIS IS A SUPERB NOVEL! OCTOBER 17TH 1973 FOR ME HAS ALWAYS HELD MORE OF AN INTEREST THAN 1966,AND LIKE THOSE TEAMS IN THE HEADING ITS THE UNLOVED IN THOSE COUNTRY'S THAT ARE... Read more
Published 4 months ago by pedro
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent fantasy of what might have been
With Billy as an all-too-believable composite of all those metropolitan fancy dan "flair" players of the 70's who never quite lived up to their promise, and who now make a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carol McAra
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for the Football Fan
As a rugby man I wondered if this book would be for me but I liked the premise so thought I would give it a go and its great and could even appeal to a non male audience who like a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Long Haired Flanker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Really good read, well written, all set for a sequel that I will look forward to. I can't explain why without a spoiler alert.
Published 5 months ago by Jonathan Bagby
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