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by Kevin Sampson

Category: Fiction / General
188 pages; ISBN: 0-09-926797-7

Rating: 3/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Dan Champion


The story of a middle-class teenager who becomes involved with The Pack, Tranmere Rovers` notorious 1970s gang of football hooligans. The Pack rampage at away matches, beating up rival fans, slashing faces with Stanley knives and looting local shops. But Paul never quite fits in with the working-class core of The Pack, and things start to take a turn for the worse.

The latest in a long line of novels about football hooliganism, Awaydays only manages to distinguish itself in the portrayal of its era. 1979 comes alive in the book with the incidental backdrop of music, fashion and drugs in the English Northwest, the time of punk, new romanticism and popstar excess. Other than this I was extremely disappointed with the book, particularly its shallow consideration of the social issues surrounding football hooliganism.

The book`s single greatest difficulty is its central character, who is represented far too accurately by Sampson to be appealing or interesting. A teenage Inland Revenue worker, with typical teenage problems of family, friends and girls, the story of Paul`s life simply doesn`t make entertaining reading. His apparent acceptance into the Pack, and eventual subsequent rejection, is well developed and one would imagine perfectly plausible, but sadly this isn`t enough. If the subject interests you, you would be better off with The Football Factory by John King, a more considered and ultimately thought-provoking study of the `English disease`.


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