Putting the cor into corruption
THE PROBLEM you have with writing a fictional book about football is that the real world of the game is as far-fetched and extraordinary as anything an author can conjure up. A West Ham player has been stabbed in the legs this season, an England captain c
THE PROBLEM you have with writing a fictional book about football is that the real world of the game is as far-fetched and extraordinary as anything an author can conjure up.
A West Ham player has been stabbed in the legs this season, an England captain caught with a team-mates girlfriend, a whole team shot at on their bus and then banned from a tournament for not fulfilling their fixtures - you couldn't make it up!
Fortunately, Dagenham writer Neil Humphreys did not have to worry about making too much up for his latest book Match Fixer - much of it was based on his real-life experiences in the footballing world of Singapore - and it makes for a pulsating thriller.
The writer is faithful to his roots. Chris Osborne is a West Ham Academy player from Dagenham who finds that his chances are few in a Hammers squad consisting of stars like Carlos Tevez.
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He eventually finds himself in Singapore, playing for Raffles Rangers in the S-League, and it is there that he encounters the corruption, the drugs and the gambling that has blighted the game over there for so long.
Humphreys certainly knows his subject. Having worked as a journalist in Singapore he experienced first hand the kelong or fixed matches, influenced by the gamblers of the country and neighbouring Malaysia, where betting is far more important than the sport itself.
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Humphreys paints a fascinating picture of corruption at all levels, but all the time his love for the game shines through, courtesy of the honest West Ham lad who makes it big in this footballing backwater of the Far East.
Not relevant to football in England? Think again. Remember the infamous floodlight failure in the West Ham v Crystal Palace cup tie in 2003? Remember the supposed bungs taken by Bruce Grobbelaar to influence games? Both supposedly came from Far East gambling syndicates, and who is to say there haven't been more?
Match Fixer is a riveting read. A book full of corruption, drugs, sex, dodgy journalists, undercover cops and everything else which we seem to experience every day in the modern world of football.
For West Ham locals there is also plenty of mentions of Chadwell Heath, Parsloes Park, Upton Park and Green Street to whet your appetite.
Can Chris Osborne overcome the fixers? Buy the book and see.
You can purchase your copy, priced �8.99, from the Newham Bookstore in Barking Road; from most good bookshops and online at www.amazon.co.uk
Give it a try, it is a real eye-opener.
'Match Fixer' by Neil Humphreys 'Marshall Cavendish' �8.99