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The King of Brownswall – available on Amazon

The King of Brownswall is now available to purchase in both paperback and kindle format.

The King of Brownswall

Click Here to view the book on Amazon

The King of Brownswall by Dave Abbiss

Nolan Stones, a half-hearted maverick on the verge of failing a philosophy degree, and his crew of dallying dreamers are spending another night setting the world to rights, whilst getting merry within the intoxicating walls of their local pub, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Little do they know that Boca, a mysterious character who basks in their bold idealistic statements about changing the world together, is sitting on an adjacent table ready to plunge them head-first into revolutionary waters.

After Nolan’s meeting with eminent local philosopher, Doctor Herbert Loudrat, the group’s vehicle for changing the world reveals itself. Loudrat tells the story of King Mido, an ancient ruler who buried his crown somewhere on a local football field called Brownswall centuries ago. According to Loudrat, an ancient bylaw still exists, whereby he who finds this relic will rule over the field, independent of Great Britain.

The field itself holds fond memories for the would-be revolutionaries but they soon find out that creating a Utopian state isn’t as easy as they’d always believed it to be, especially when confronted by a ruthless syndicate who want to use the land for their own ends.

The King of Brownswall is a hilarious and exhilarating read that will have you laughing out loud one minute and gasping in suspense the next.

Diving (Huddersfield Town NFFC Programme Notes 2012/13)

It pains me to admit it but football is not quite as good as it once was. Though I still love the game with childlike intensity, it feels tattered and torn, like an old stuffed toy that we’re all too nostalgic to throw away. I’m scared to clutch at it too tightly in case it falls to bits in my arms. Football, for all its wealth and gloss, is at least partially broken … but it’s not beyond repair!

Many would refute that the ‘beautiful game’ is any less beautiful than it ever has been, but this is only because its moral recession has been so gradual. The stealthy decline of which I speak is primarily one of honesty and fair play; two concepts which are foreign to some of today’s professional players.

The issue of diving is a prime example of the morally-deprived state the game of football currently finds itself in.

Back in 1994, when Jurgen Klinsmann signed for Tottenham Hotspur, the German striker was chastised by fans and media because he had a reputation for diving. Though Klinsmann was widely regarded as one of the world’s best players, he became infamous for getting Argentinian Pedro Monzon sent off and winning West Germany the 1990 World Cup Final through a cynical and shameless act of simulation.

There was no contact made between Monzon and Klinsmann; not even the hairs on their legs brushed against each other as Klinsmann sprung theatrically through the air, as if he’d been shot at by a sniper in the crowd. To seal the fate of his counterpart, Klinsmann rolled on the ground in feigned agony for well over a minute. Some say his performance elevated him to that of the second best German actor of the twentieth century, just behind a young David Hasselhoff.

There has always been dishonesty within football. However, back in 1994 when Klinsmann arrived at White Hart Lane, he was painted as the embodiment of everything English football despised. He was branded a cheat, on account of his previous misdemeanours and his arrival was met with uproarious disdain. Nowadays, such cynicism within a player’s character is barely noticeable. Dishonesty has become commonplace.

The game has become infested by cheating; players dive, whether their English, German, Welsh or Uruguayan. The more ethically aware will at least wait for the slightest stroke from an opposing player’s bootlaces before falling swan-like to the ground. Others will stay on the floor until they see a yellow card brandished, before miraculously rising to reveal that what appeared to be a broken leg was actually just a scratched finger nail. And there are those who actively look to seek advantage by creating the illusion of a foul when no contact at all has been made. All are cheating; all are tainting the game of football with their deceit.

Unfortunately, nearly two decades on from Klinsmann’s arrival, ‘the art of diving’ has started to become an accepted part of the game. You may have noticed the most recent addition to the pundits’ book of hackneyed clichés, “he’s entitled to go down there.”

In my view, a player is entitled to go down only under the influence of gravity itself; if he chooses to fall of his own volition, he is cheating.

The issue of diving is not the morally grey area that many within football’s inner circle would have you believe. It’s actually quite a simple case of right and wrong.

I play football myself, as I’m sure many people present at the City Ground today do, and I can honestly say that it never enters my head to take a dive. As an amateur footballer, you simply do what comes naturally. If a player lunges in but misses your legs, you just carry on running. If you get tripped and fall, you simply get up as quickly as your body allows and get on with the game. What some professionals might call naïvete, I would claim falls under the long-forgotten umbrella of sporting integrity. That’s why I never made it as a professional footballer – I was simply too honest!

The big problem is that, throughout the game, no serious action is taken to reprimand divers. You may never be able to prevent referees from being deceived during the game itself, but the time for affirmative action should come after the final whistle has been blown.

Each match should be reviewed and any player caught diving or feigning injury should be given an automatic ten-match ban. This way, players would think twice before doing it again; they would quickly learn that the short-term gain of winning a free-kick or penalty is far outweighed by the long-term punishment of a lengthy suspension.

When I finally overthrow Sepp Blatter and end his totalitarian reign of terror once and for all, the first thing I’ll do is to get someone analysing every match and dishing out punishments to those who seek to gain advantage through blatant dishonesty. It would cause immediate chaos but diving would eventually be eradicated.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @DAVE_ABBISS

Sean O’Driscoll Sacking (Non-Programme NFFC)

It’s fair to say that it was an eventful end to 2012 for Nottingham Forest Football Club, culminating in the sacking of Sean O’Driscoll and the subsequent appointment of Alex McLeish.

It all started with the most bizarre Boxing Day any Reds’ fan is ever likely to encounter. After witnessing one of our best overall displays of the season, beating fellow promotion contenders Leeds 4-2 at the City Ground, I was cautiously optimistic about the second half of the season. I believed we had finally turned that elusive corner and was really looking forward to the Crystal Palace game. No one could have expected the dramatic twist that followed.

Later that evening, Sean O’Driscoll was sacked.

It shocked not only those who bleed red blood, but the rest of the footballing world as well. After an impressive victory, and with Forest sitting only a point off the playoffs, this controversial move by the Al-Hasawi family was the last thing that anyone had expected. Though that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong decision for the club.

I have always been a huge advocate of the theory that continuity is the key to success in football. You only need to look at the examples of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, David Moyes at Everton or Tony Pulis at Stoke City, to see the positive impact giving a manager time can have on the fortunes of a club.

Turning a football club around isn’t easy and, as I have stated previously, the only way to achieve long term success is through the age-old combination of hard work and time. Of course, you also need to be sure that the man at the helm has vision … and the necessary tools by which to achieve it.

Although, it’s true to say that the most successful clubs are the ones that give their managers sufficient time to implement their plans, that doesn’t mean that if you leave any given manager in a job for long enough he will eventually achieve great things.

If David Platt had been left in charge at the City Ground for the past decade would we be a Champions League outfit by now? I doubt it. More likely, we’d be selling off the Trent End for scrap metal.

Giving a manager a wealth of time is definitely the right thing to do, as long as you can see overall progress within the club; as long as you still believe he’s moving things in the right direction. This is why I believe Forest were right to part company with both Steve McClaren and Steve Cotterill, the previous two incumbents of the role.

However, I cannot truthfully say that I agree with the decision to sack Sean O’Driscoll.

I know things have not been perfect during the 2012/13 season so far but I believe there were tangible signs that the team were improving and were very much in contention for a playoff place. I liked the style of football Sean O’Driscoll was trying to adopt, even though what we have seen on the pitch this season is far from the finished product. It takes longer than half a season to build a winning team from scratch.

We will be travelling to Pride Park next week, with our fifth manager in as many derby games. I do not believe such instability can possibly be the blueprint for a team who seeks a sustained period of success. By appointing Alex McLeish, Forest have made the decision to start all over again. Personally, I would have given O’Driscoll a full season at the very least.

This is just my opinion and we will never find out, for sure, where Sean O’Driscoll would have taken us. I firmly believe that the Al Hasawi family made this bold move for all the right reasons and with the best interest of the club at heart. For whatever reason, they obviously did not feel that O’Driscoll was the man to take us to the Premiership. That being the case, it was better to act before the January transfer window opened, giving Alex McLeish the chance to put his own stamp on the team, perhaps filling some of the gaps he feels the squad currently has.

Football is all about opinions. I, like many other Forest fans, didn’t agree with the decision to change managers halfway through the season. However, it’s reassuring to see that the vast majority of these supporters have continued to get fully behind the team (and the new manager) in spite of this.

As football fans we aren’t always going to agree with decisions that our made. In fact, whatever the Al Hasawi family do there will always be at least one supporter who thinks they should have done the opposite. What’s important is that we roar our troops on regardless!

You never know, as unlikely as it seems now, Alex McLeish may be the man to take us to the Promised Land!

Funny Old Game (Blackburn Rovers – NFFC Programme Notes 2012/13)

There are few who can survive in the world of football broadcasting without grating on the nerves of supporters up and down the country. For the vast majority of commentators and analysts, their only redeeming trait is that occasionally, and quite unintentionally, they will say something of tremendous comic value. If football is a ‘funny old game’ then football punditry is borderline hysterical.

There is a worn out ancient book of football clichés that every football commentator keeps on his utility belt, alongside a microphone, thermos flask and tunnel vision bat goggles. It contains phrases that, when taken outside of their usual context, make no sense at all.

Has any player ever truly found himself in ‘acres of space’? Is a man who wears his ‘heart on his sleeve’ not in need of serious medical attention? And has any hapless striker ever been given the opportunity to prove whether or not he can literally ‘hit a cow’s backside with a banjo’? If so, I’m yet to discover the YouTube video.

Perhaps these are some of the more traditional examples of a football cliché … but modern footballisms are equally perplexing.

“If anything, he’s hit that too well” is a phrase commonly used to accompany a shot that goes blazing over the crossbar. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s equivalent to me driving my car through the living room window and my wife saying, “If anything, you’ve parked that too well, love.”

Another of my favourites is, “the wall did its job, there.” Of course it did – all they have to do is stand there! You’d be a little worried about the players’ mental strength if they all ran off screaming as the free kick taker took his run up.

Forgive me for being so pedantic, but these banal football terminologies have sent me spiralling into meltdown over the years. I’m not alone either.

Former Forest Manager Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett threw a deadline day hissy fit, live on air, as a result of Jim White’s cavalier use of the illogical phrase “he always gives 110%”.

Pundits, as a species, have never had a comprehensive grasp of basic mathematics. Ruud Gullit once infamously said, “We must have had 99% of the game … it was the other 3% that cost us the match.” With such a revolutionary take on how percentages work, Gullit could be qualified to sit alongside that loveable Irish gremlin, Louis Walsh, on the X Factor. Would I watch it? A million percent, yes!

Of course, regular Sky pundit Dave Bassett is well-qualified to criticise the deployment of football clichés; he has proved to be something of a renegade when talking about ‘the beautiful game’ over the years, using Yoda-like proverbs rather than Townsend-esque twaddle.

“You’ve got to miss them to score sometimes” was a concept that blew people’s minds, making them think about the art of goalscoring in a completely different way. Before Bassett conjured up this post-modern concept, the ignorant masses believed missing and scoring to be mutually exclusive.

Other legendary Bassett phrases include, “We are now entering a new Millennium and football’s a completely different cup of tea” and the always popular, “We couldn’t hit a donkey’s a*** with a frying pan.”

What is the British football pundit’s obsession with throwing inanimate handled objects at the back end of farmyard animals? I’m sure the RSPCA might have something to say about these unorthodox training methods, used to help misfiring strikers regain their form.

Bassett isn’t the only former Nottingham Forest employee to burn the proverbial book of football adages and end up making a fool of himself. Ron Atkinson, a man so unnaturally bronzed that his trench coat was once searched for missing Oompa Loompas, once said: “Well, Clive, it’s all about the two M’s – movement and positioning.”

Former Forest football consultant David Pleat spent a whole summer raving about the flowing continental style of Czechoslovakia, a whole decade after the country had ceased to exist. (Also in their group were the Soviet Union, Zanzibar and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)

Yes, I’ve hand picked some of the most moronic things that football broadcasters have said over the past twenty years, in order to make them look incompetent … but I make no apology! We fans would consider talking about football for a living an absolute dream and, rightly or wrongly, we all believe we could do a better job. In the meantime, the current incumbents can expect a royal roasting every time they utter something downright stupid!

Or to put it more succinctly, and in the words of Terry Venables, “If you can’t stand the heat in the dressing-room, get out of the kitchen.”

Follow me on Twitter: @Dave_Abbiss