We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

‘One of the best football books I’ve ever read.’ John Motson on Provided You Don’t Kiss Me


‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed by that attitude. I can assure you it’s much more important than that’ – Bill Shankly

What Shankly said isn’t even half-true. In fact, it’s bollocks. Football isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything. If nothing else, I know that much.

As a player, Thom Callaghan was defined by the winning goal he scored in an FA Cup final. The goal wasn’t the blessing he imagined it would be. His whole career was defined by that brief moment of glory.

With his playing days over, Callaghan, still a local hero, is tempted back to his old club as caretaker manager. His task to rescue it from relegation. He’s got the job solely on the recommendation of his former boss and mentor Frank Mallory, now desperately ill and responsible for the team’s precipitous decline.

Callaghan is pitched into the Premier League during the last months of the 1996-1997 season, where – among reputations more gilded than his own – he finds himself pitted against the likes of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, chasing their fourth title in five years, and also one of the newest recruits to the English game, Arsene Wenger.

Can Callaghan save his club from what seems the inevitability of the drop? Does Mallory – eccentric, inspirational and manipulative – even want him to succeed? What if the prize of a personal triumph isn’t worth it in the end?

Injury Time is the first novel from the multiple award-winning sportswriter Duncan Hamilton.

Reviews

'What I enjoy most about this beautifully written and tender account of the relationship between a nervous young provincial reporter and a football genius is the sense of genuine proximity to its subject, so that Clough's obvious flaws seem forgivable and even beguiling, rather than cruel and unbearable. Wonderful book' Russel Brand, Guardian on Provided You Don't Kiss Me
'One of the best football books I've ever read.' John Motson on Provided You Don't Kiss Me
Hamilton...expresses the passion that millions like him, in pursuit of happiness and belonging, feel for the beautiful game. Simply magnificent
Mail on Sunday
A marriage of prose and detail so fine and fastidious that it takes the breath away
Independent
Justifiably prize-winning
Mail on Sunday
A convincing behind the scenes re-enactment of English football... Hamilton has a perceptively humane understanding of men for whom football was never just a game
Guardian
A fictional look at action, on and off the pitch, past and present, that will leave you smiling
Sun
Set in the last decades of the 20th Century and mingling real-life footballers with fictional characters, this is a thoughtful, entertaining debut novel by one of our finest sports writers, in which the beautiful game becomes a moving metaphor for the vicissitudes of human experience.
Mail on Sunday
With spare, sharp prose and knowing insights, Hamilton has written a heartwarming as well as heartbreaking winner.
Weekend Sport