I fail to believe that anyone who reads Dave Robert’s new book 32 Programmes cannot relate to his thinking as a football fan. It traces his life as a football fan through 32 chapters in his life, going into the bitter-sweet details of growing up in the 1970s and ’80s via 32 football matches.
Roberts had always been a programme collecter, every since his father took him to see his first match, Fulham versus Manchester United in the 1960s. From that day until 2002 he built up a collection of over 1,100 programmes. However, life has a habit of throwing spanners in the works and so he is forced to chose just 31 to take with him in his new life in the US. This chronicles his choices.
Building on and around his first book, The Bromley Boys (soon to be released as a film, no less), Dave introduces us to his career, his attempts to find a soul mate and finally in a twist his life changing circumstances that will have you reaching for a tissue.
The book includes a visit to Denis Law’s house as a teenager, bunking off work and ultimately getting the sack to watch West Ham (proof that he really is mad), the awkward moment of taking a girlfriend (or three) to their first football match, and the intimidating atmosphere of games in the 1980s.
Some of the matches still live in our memories today. The “Three Degrees” demolition by West Bromwich Albion of Manchester United in the late 1970s, the England victory over Hungary at Wembley to take us to the World Cup Finals in 1982 and bizarre FA Cup game in 1971 between Bromley and Civil Service.
His final chapter, number 32 in his list details his return to England for a visit in 2008 to see his family after many years away as well as a trip back to Hayes Lane to see his beloved Bromley play in the FA Cup.
If you read one new book on your holidays this summer, chose this one. And then you try and detail 10, let alone 32, games that mark the milestones in your life.
32 Programmes is published by Bantom Press and available from early August 2011 from Amazon amongst other places.