There’s Only One Danny Garvey, by David F Ross, published by Orenda Books, Price: £8.99

THIS fictional account of gritty Scottish working-class life and football in the 1990s is a deeply immersive experience.

Through a stream-of-consciousness narrative, the obsessions of a young man are played out in an unforgiving environment. The crazy world of junior football in Ayrshire provides the backdrop but this novel is centred around one man’s struggle for redemption.

The protagonist Danny was a 16-yearold footballing prodigy. Professional clubs wanted to sign him and a glittering future beckoned. But his early promise was to remain unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw Bridge to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, 13 years earlier, that changed the course of several lives.

David F Ross paints a dark picture of the small-town working-class life with violence, drugs, alcohol abuse and criminal behaviours all around.

Danny is traumatised by his childhood experiences and his return to Barshaw is an attempt to rebuild his life. It is an emotional roller-coaster of a novel and we are absorbed in Danny’s search for redemption. Will Barshaw Bridge FC defy the odds and win the Cup and will Danny start a new life at Ross County in the Highlands of Scotland?

The social realism is hard hitting and maybe off-putting to some, but this is one of the best football related novels of recent years. 

Rating out of 10: 8

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