More Than A Game
Sabina Park Rangers is the first team of black players to reach the final of the Watney’s Challenge Cup. But coach Horace McIntosh has more selection problems than most. The First Division champions want to sign one of his best players – and right up until the day of the match he is uncertain that he will have a team for the biggest game in the club’s history because of arrests, a scam and an atmosphere of impending violence.
Author Bio – Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England, and now lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, two cats and a dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and of course a good book. His world is balanced by his obsession with comic books, quality TV, global events and the great outdoors.
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Taken from the Prologue – giving an introduction to the setting of the book.
Horace McIntosh had set up business in 1957 after listening to his recently arrived compatriots grumble about their inability to get a decent haircut from an English barber. In the following twenty-four years his trade hadn’t altered much: even though the seventies was the decade of the big Afro, for a lot of his younger customers it was still mostly all about a trim and a touch of Dax, or a shave and a splash of Brut. It was the shop’s interior that had undergone the most changes during the time he had been cutting my hair. Over the years the walls had become covered with posters of black football players. When I first went there in the sixties there were only creased sepia-tinted photos of the Caribbean All Stars and Jamaican sides of the fifties. The only exception to the football theme was a framed photo of the all-conquering West Indies cricket team. As time went by, the walls began to be covered with pictures of mainly South American footballers as it would be years before Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Boyz’, or the Trinidad and Tobago side made their appearances at the World Cup finals. Up until then most of Wolverhampton’s West Indian soccer fans supported Brazil – or failing that any international side that happened to be playing England. As I headed into adolescence black players were still a rarity – some said an exotic curiosity – in English soccer, as there seemed to be a common belief amongst professional managers that black men were not robust enough for the rigours of the British game. That began to change in the mid-seventies when Ron Atkinson of nearby West Bromwich Albion became the first high-profile manager to challenge the notion of race-based fragility and put three black players into his team. Photos of Regis, Batson and Cunningham were promptly added to Horace’s wall to join the lonely figure of Clyde Best, a Bermudan who had once played for West Ham United. Wolves followed suit a few years later and put a couple of black players called Hazell and Berry into the first team, giving the town’s black people more than a passing interest about what they were up to. Looking back from a time when nearly one in four of the superstars in the English Premier League are black, the 1980s really do seem a very strange and backward time.