Childhood love of Subbuteo inspires new footballing book

Steyning author Andrew Muir wanted to write a novel about Subbuteo, a massive part of his childhood.

Andy Muir
Andy Muir

The result is Flickin’ Wardy to Wembley, published by Amazon and available on Amazon, £7.99 paperback and £1.99 kindle.

Andrew explains: “The game was an absolute icon of the 70s when I was growing up. I’m surprised it’s not featured in more stories really.

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“I loved football in all its forms as a kid and if I wasn’t playing for my school or my Sunday team, I was either at the Goldstone watching The Albion or in my room playing Subbuteo. A massive hero of the time, for me and all other Albion fans of course, was Peter ‘Wardy’ Ward. What a player he was! Another icon of the times.

“As a lifelong Albion fan, I will never forget going to the FA Cup Final in 1983. Peter had been on loan to the Albion when they started their journey to Wembley and played in the earlier rounds.

“However, Brian Clough, his manager at Nottingham Forest, refused to extend his loan to the end of that season. I was always intrigued by the famous words that Cloughie spoke to Peter when asked why ‘Son, I’ve never won the FA Cup and nor will you.’

“It made me wonder what might have happened if Peter had been allowed to play in the final. Would we have beaten Man United with him in the team? We’ll never know of course, but I had the idea of a teenage fan playing the cup matches on his Subbuteo table and insisting on keeping Wardy in the team. What if Wardy got to the final after all, even if it was only on the Subbuteo table?

“I received a lot of help from Tim Carder, the Albion historian and from my brother Duncan, a former chairman of the supporters club, to make sure the book was historically accurate.

“I then contacted Peter Ward, via his wife Jacquie, in the States. They’ve been absolutely brilliant. They read the book and liked it so much they have actively promoted it on social media sites.

“I started writing the book some time ago but with work and other commitments was struggling to find the time to finish it. Then along came lockdown. I was furloughed from my job at an architect’s practice in Shoreham, and suddenly I had time on my hands.

“Like a lot of people, lockdown was challenging and as someone who has struggled with anxiety, on and off, throughout my adult life, I wanted to talk about that in the book too.

“So Callum, the main character, is a teenager suffering from the jitters and going through all manner of the usual teenage angst whilst having to deal with anxiety as well.

“The book starts in the summer of 1982 when new neighbours move in and wreak havoc for Callum and his family. Callum falls for Rebecca, the new girl next door; his mother is clearly attracted to Rebecca’s father; and, well, Callum’s life is about to to be turned upside down… and then to cap it all, Wardy arrives back from Nottingham Forest.

“I have written two previous novels entitled Does Everyone Stare The Way I Do? and Every Little Thing She Does, both written around ten years ago and recently re-launched on Amazon/Kindle.

“They deal with a young teenage boy in the late 70s who is equally obsessed with both the rock band The Police and his best friend’s girlfriend. I’ve always enjoyed writing and was really a frustrated author all through my career in insurance.”