The Boy On The Shed
Paul Ferris
Hidden and stoughton

What a fascinating journey life takes many of us on. We all have the story, we all have interesting tales along the way. We all have a book in us. Ferris’s remarkable journey is told by him in this book. A mam who survived a heartattack when she was 41 and he 6, something he would replicate in his 40s. But along the way well we never know what’s ahead of us.

A boy born in lisburn in 1965 as Northern Ireland was about to explode with fire and fury and war might feel it lucky to escape unscathed. However as his peers were staring down the barrel of a gun he became the youngest professional to play soccer with Newcastle United. A 16 year old northern Irish boy was on the pitch.
Terrified and home sick. The home he was sick for was in a city engulfed with hatred and sectarianism. Growing up in a catholic family living amongst mainly Protestants lead to a life of fear. His life journey included a burnt out house and seeing his parents beaten up, all in the name of religion for a war going on over a flag. Ironically the bigotry helped get him his first professional contract as the scout from linfield like what he saw when he saw Ferris play. Unfortunately for him he didn’t realize that the clubs policy of only signing Protestants would prevent him from signing a boy who happened to grow up in a house with a catholic parents so he told his mat, a scout for Newcastle United. Newcastle has no such rules so a trip across the Irish Sea was in order. This is a story of the hometown boy who left home, on his own, to figure out what a city is like and not get lost in his findings.

The writing throughout is eloquent. Ferris brings us back to those black and white days of short trousers and penny sweets. A time when food was almost
Sacrificed for alcohol and cigarettes. It was a time of little excess, a far simpler era where fear greeted you almost daily. It was also a time of hunger strikes in ireland and miners striking in the uk. Ferris reminds us of Margaret thatchers iron grip on the country and makes no mistake about what side he was on.

This really is a book for all. A book for anyone interested in any of the following – sport, family life, separation, politics of the 80’s, growing up and having to make choices without a crystal ball.

niallhope

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