First Review of ‘Just 14’

Buy It NowNow it’s getting exciting. Not only are the fixtures for the new Premier League season out, but we are less than 3 weeks from the big ‘Just 14’ Book Launch.

Spookily, the fixtures see Aston Villa away to Arsenal on the last day of the season. Just as it was in the amazing season of 1980/81 that ‘Just 14’ is all about.

On 9th July (from 7-45pm) at Cleveland Arms, Wolverhampton ‘Just 14’ will be available for the first time. Everyone is welcome (well, over 18’s) to join us free of charge on the night. A night that will have three true Villa Legends (Gibson, Shaw and Morley) in attendance, as well as books to buy and fundraising for Acorns Children’s Hospice. Promises to be a truly unique night.

If you can’t get to the the Launch on 9th July then please do the next best thing and pre-order your copy now so it arrives ready for the Official Launch date of 15th July. Just click the ‘Buy it Now!’ image on the left. This will take you straight to a PayPal screen and the option to pay by PayPal or use a Debit/Credit card. If you buy before 9th July the price of the book is just £9.50. It will be £11.99 afterwards. Postage is £2.50. Please add following discount code to get the reduced price 2S8JWJ1AKLBH

The First independent review of ‘Just 14’ is now out. Here it is;

‘JUST 14’ by Andy Dale

Football. The beautiful game. A game that creates burning passions and seething divides; inter-team rivalries that carry beyond a mere ninety minutes and are about far more than twenty-two players kicking a ball. Football divides beyond its audience too, with those who dislike the sport as vocal as those who do, and those of us who are in between never really entirely sure what the fuss is all about.

I’ll be honest: my take it or leave it attitude to the game makes me probably in the latter, and so it was with some trepidation that I approached Andy Dale’s story of Aston Villa’s finest season. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that Just 14 wasn’t a dry, statistically-driven hagiography written by a Villa fan for a Villa fan, but a passionate retelling of English football’s 101st competitive season as experienced through the diary entries of Jonathan, a 14 year old Villa fanatic.

It’s a smart move. Although the 1980/1981 season was one of Villa’s best, it perhaps wasn’t the most extraordinary. Buoyed by a relatively successful previous season they were already in good form, and by October they had already reached the top of the table. All they needed to do then was stay there, and I don’t think it’s giving the game away that, excepting a couple of close calls, they did.

Of course, close calls for a young teenager are nothing short of agonising, and lacing that agony with the trials and tribulations of the schoolboy’s everyday life makes for a wonderfully engaging tale. Between matches we share Jonathan’s sadness for the death of his Grandpa, his excitement about his first date and his teenage musings about everyday life. This is no precocious pseudo-intellectual riffing Adrian Mole, but a typical, ordinary boy at the dawn of a new decade.

Using such a grounded character is an absorbing way to tell the story, and Dale doesn’t shy away from ladling this story of the season with lashings of nostalgia. And what a feast that makes!

From the first chapter to the last my own personal memories were sparked by mentions of Subbuteo, Shoot League Ladders and Multicoloured Swap Shop and a whole host of others – memories of simpler times when all you really had to concern yourself with was the intricacies of tuning a transistor radio and having a suitable nickname as a member of your local gang.

Intertwined with this of course is the match by match commentary, Jonathan’s passion for the Villa bubbling to a boil as his beloved team score their way to glory. Fans of the game – and especially Aston Villa – will doubtless find his critiques of Division One players now retired or moved to management and punditry equally nostalgic, and enjoy the straightforward and punchy end of chapter statistics of the unfolding season. The rest of us can take a big bite of memory pie, and happily tag along for the ride.

With Just 14, Andy Dale really has hit the back of the net.

Steve Tanner
Writer, Editor & Publisher (Time Bomb Comics)
17th June 2015

 Launch Poster

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