I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this book so am as pleased as punch to have been given the opportunity to share an extract with you today. I honestly can’t wait to read the book for myself as it sounds stunning!
Thank you as always to Anne Cater for the invitation and to Orenda Books for supplying the extract.
About the book:
Danny Garvey was a sixteen-year old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs clamoured to sign him, and a glittering future beckoned. And yet, his early promise remained unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives. There’s only one Danny Garvey, they once chanted … and that’s the problem.
A story of irrational hopes and fevered dreams – of unstoppable passion and unflinching commitment in the face of defeat – There’s Only One Danny Garvey is, above all, an unforgettable tale about finding hope and redemption in the most unexpected of places.
About the author:
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night.
His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespasand The Man Who Loved Islands.
David lives in Ayrshire.
There’s Only One Danny Garvey
by David F. Ross
Published by Orenda Books
The car slows.
‘Left here, is it?’ He’s still going too fast.
‘Aye. But ye need tae watch. It’s a sharp turn just beyond the hump.’
‘Fuck sake,’ says the taxi driver. He breaks sharply. I knew he would and I’ve braced myself for it.
Barshaw Bridge. The awkward, twisting, dangerous access the village football club is named after. A hump-backed death trap, as I can personally attest. A narrow approach shaped exactly like the metal catch on that wee elasticated snake belt I wore as a child. Too fast and you’re right into the low, dark stone wall. Too slow, and you risk oncoming vehicles not seeing you in time. Catch-22.
‘Ah see what ye mean. That’s an accident waitin’ tae happen, eh?’ He laughs. Not coming close to the truth of his observation.
‘Aye.’ I look out the window. We drive up the gradual incline. The density of the trees that line the road, until it widens enough to permit two vehicles to pass each other. Even now, at this late stage, I contemplate the car taking me straight through this one street, one-dimensional place and out the other side. Back to a different normality. Not a happy one, admittedly; just a bit emotionally safer.
The place is exactly as I recall it. The pace of change in backwards rural communities like Barshaw is barely detectable. It’s only been ten years, I remind myself.
I imagine it looking exactly like this on the day, more than eighty years ago, when five young recruits left the village to serve their country; the only addition being the stained stone pillar and rusting plaque to their memory in the centre of Main Street. I hear my older brother: Lucky bastards, he’d say, as he sat on the plinth drinking pale ale. At least they didnae have tae fucken come back tae this shitehole.
We drive past Ollie’s, the butcher’s, where Raymond nicked a whole haunch of beef while a pal distracted the owner. Next door, Bogart’s Hypermarket is closed. A queue has formed outside its door. The biggest shop – although that isn’t saying much – reopening after lunch, like it’s still processing ration books. The bakers wasrun by a jovial man called Ernie. Looking through the window, I can see that it still is.
Past a tiny vennel and there’s Dave Bamford’s newsagent, where I had a paper round. When my bike got stolen from the yard behind it, Libby had to drive me about, and took my wages. There’s the brick wall with white goalposts painted on it. The word ‘End’ is painted where you might expect a goalie to stand when facing a penalty kick. I’d always be down here battering a Mitre 5 at the middle letter. Bending the ball around carefully placed dustbins until daylight faded and I couldn’t see the posts anymore, or when someone came out and complained at the racket I was making so late in the day.
I’d fingered Alison Currie in that same dimly lit waste ground. There isn’t a commemorative blue plaque on the wall there. Just a newly installed security camera. I contemplate running into her after all these years. Would I recognise her? What would I say?
Would she remember me the way I do her? That the smell of her on my fingers had repulsed me and made me gag. But not enough to stop me losing my virginity to her a week later.
The built structures of Barshaw developed around its church. Its identity spilled from the other place of worship: The King’s Arms. Hard, blackened, pitted mining men falling into personal decline as the coal industry collapsed and in the daylight above ground, where they forged a different type of covenant with God. Trouble prospers when uneducated men have too much time on their hands.
And at the far end of Main Street, just beyond the soon-to-beredundant school gates, over on the elevated left plateau, is the football ground; the emotional (broken) heart of the village. It seems smaller than I remember. Down to Arbroath’s pitch at Gayfield being bigger, no doubt, rather than me being smaller when I last played on it.
I was eleven the first time. A schools’ cup final. Barshaw Primary’s first – and to date, only. It was a wonder there were enough boys from the village school to make up the numbers, never mind have us all co-ordinated enough to win the four games needed to lift the cup. But we did. The coaching extended to an excitable male teacher yelling ‘pass it to Garvey’ or ‘shoot, Danny!’ every five minutes. He’d argue it worked. I scored four.
Prophetic classroom banners proclaimed Garvey Will Burst Your Net. I took one home to pin to the ceiling above my bed. I felt special. Libby threw it out. Raymond retrieved it the next day before the lorry took it. He took money off me for it. I kept it hidden under my bed until I left Libby’s place.
Ours wasn’t a happy home filled with laughter. Kids should laugh a lot. I didn’t. Not inside it, anyway.
I get out of the car. A man watches me. He leans on the corner wall of the pub, as if preventing its imminent collapse, rather than the other way around. Maybe each needs the support of the other. He stares. He seems concerned. He shouts: am I alright? Which seems strange in the context of me just arriving. Something vaguely memorable about him, but that will happen a lot. Hard to determine whether I’ve been recognised. Maybe the uniqueness of a taxi dropping someone off here is the remarkable thing.
I wait; staring for what seems like hours. Imagining myself occupying these narrow streets, brushing up against that monotonous grey roughcast.
There’s been a load of compromisin’, on the road to this fucking horizon.
‘Bud? Mate?’ The driver; out the car and nudging me out of the daydream. ‘Ah need tae shoot, pal.’
I pay the driver and advise him to return to the seventy-six, taking the northern route that skirts the long north bank of the river. It’ll add about twenty minutes but it’s far safer than the Russian Roulette of the bridge, I advise him. I watch the car become a tiny purple dot before it disappears into the haze.
I walk towards the pitch, drawn there magnetically. The propped-up man still stares. When I reach the perimeter fence, I look back. He seems to be following.
‘Danny, son. Ye made it.’ The shout comes from the back of the huts. It’s Higgy; my sponsor and landlord for the next two weeks.
I still have no idea why I agreed to this. It won’t end well. It can’t. When I left, I never expected to return. But Deek Henderson dying changed all that. Ten years ago, I came back for his funeral. Raymond didn’t want me to. He said it would open a whole series of buried emotions, that it wouldn’t benefit anyone, least of all me. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about, and he said that that was the way it should stay. Despite everything else he did, Deek Henderson had given me my chance. When others were saying I was far too young, far too weak for the rigors of the junior game, he said he trusted me. And he’d stuck by the Didn’t catch up with old school friends or team-mates. Didn’t spend any time reminiscing. Didn’t go and see my mother.
Now she is dying. She knows the cause of it and the likely timescale. A season at best.
Being involved in football makes you think differently about the passing of time. You think in seasons, not years. Starting in August and finishing in May. Fuck all in between. The boredom and depression of the summer shutdown. Alone and with nothing to do. And, paradoxically, the time when the darkness sets in. Christmas, another unwelcome intrusion. Especially a white one with games being called off. The real time; the remainingtime, assessed in quarters. A mathematical strategy for plotting progress in incremental stages.
At best, Libby, my mam, might make it to the quarter-final stages of the various cups. Anything else would be injury time and up to the discretion of the ref. It’s out of her hands.
End of extract
There’s Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross is available to purchase now: Amazon UK
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