Awaydays Paperback – 4 Mar 1999
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The first page of this excellent debut novel shows a map of Birkenhead featuring the Tranmere Rovers football ground, the train line to Wrexham and an arrow pointing to Chester. Not exactly the definition of chic? Well in 1979, it wasn't far off. Awaydays is about "The Pack", a gang of Tranmere Rovers Hooligans who terrorise those northern towns unfortunate enough to have a third division football team. But Awaydays is also about the implications of Margaret Thatcher's first government, the music of Joy Division and the Only Ones, youth unemployment, the explosion of heroin use, the rise of the casual street movement and what young people do when the world gets tough. The protagonist is caught between two worlds. Called Carty by the lads in the Pack and Paul by his family, he has nine O- Levels and acknowledges a tendency to "lay the accent on a bit thick when I'm with the pack, but I modulate it for all sorts of situations. I can go very posh indeed". When his worlds inevitably collide Carty is forced to making a life-changing decision. Should he stay or should he go? Take an Awayday and find out.
"A superb debut novel" (Select)
"Nasty stuff, brilliantly told" (Guardian)
"Cheeky, entertaining, and in parts dangerous" (Loaded)
"A gritty novel...with wit and humour at every turn" (Maxim)
"An acutely observed story...it comes as a relief to read a rounded evocation of a time and a generation which has too often been reduced to cliches" (Independent on Sunday)
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The book, however, concentrates more on the sport of football and the violence which follows the game around. So, while the two are linked, the views are from a different perspective and the book tends to jump about even though the chapters follow a calendar of days towards the end of the seventies, during the Thatcher years. For this reason, I recommend the book to anyone who enjoyed the film as it is not the bog standard movie novelisation but rather an expanded tie-in novel.