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The Bromley Boys

It's hard to explain what it is that makes you stand behind a goal on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon, watching a bunch of people you've never met making your life miserable. But we still do it.

Perhaps it is not so commonplace nowadays with the prawn-sandwich brigade showing more of an interest in football, but for anyone who wants to know the pleasure, the pain and the obsession of following a small team, then The Bromley Boys is for you.

What do you mean you've never heard of Bromley! Well, billed as the 'worst football team in Britain', their story does not disappoint and is a heart-warming tale of their fight for survival in the lowest non-league division in 1969/70.

Author Dave Roberts captures the imagination as a teenager totally besotted by the beautiful game. Even a passing interest in girls still finds a footballing connection and it is his beloved Bromley (and a spell playing for Hayesford Park Reserves) that dominates his young life.

But unlike most young football fans, there is no glamour of an FA Cup run, a European Cup or even playing in front of a capacity crowd. No, for Roberts, the best he can hope for is a win over Corinthian Casuals to keep them off the foot of the table.

It is football at its very essence. The reason why players like George Best and Bobby Moore pulled on football boots in the first place. And his story could easily impact upon any lower league fan, devoid of hope but bursting with passion for a club that offers little but misery in return.

In truth, the football provides a narrative around which Roberts is able to tell the story of a year in his life and there is more than just match reports and player appraisals to get your teeth into.

An amusing and well-written piece of work, the book keeps your interest and, ultimately, makes you care about the fate of Britain's worst team. Safe in the knowledge that his side will stay true to their amateur roots, Roberts is aware that he will never get to sing with 80,000 people in an FA Cup final, but that's ok.

In supporting a small team, he is able to do things fans of Arsenal and Manchester United will never get to do. A seat on the side of the pitch, a job in the tea-rooms and getting a ride home from your idol make up the magic of the lower league game.

Even though Bromley's results make the season one to forget, there is a sense of optimism that can only be found in utter desperation. But would he change his allegiance for the promise of something better? Not likely.

•  Pick up your copy of The Bromley Boys here


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