2014 JERWOOD FICTION UNCOVERED PRIZE WINNER
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2014 GORDON BURN PRIZE
October 17th 1973: the greatest disaster in the history of English football.
All England had to do was beat Poland to qualify for the World Cup.
They could only draw.
Left on the bench that night was a now forgotten genius, West Ham's Billy Parks: beautiful, gifted and totally flawed.
Fast-forward forty years, Billy's life is a testament to wasted talent. His liver is failing and he earns his money selling football memories on the after-dinner circuit to anyone who'll listen and buy him a drink. His family has deserted him and his friends are tired of his lies and excuses.
But what if he could be given a second chance? What if he could go back in time and win the game for England? What if he was able to undo the pain he'd caused his loved ones?
The Council of Football Immortals can give him that chance, just as long as he can justify himself, and his life, to them.
This is the story of Billy Parks: a man who bore his genius like a dead weight and who now craves that most precious of things - the chance to put things right.
Gareth R Roberts was born in Llangollen and brought up in Llandudno in North Wales. He studied Politics at the LSE, and spent seven years working as a speech writer and researcher in the Houses of Parliament. In 1997, he decided that he'd had enough of politics and re-trained for the Bar, being called by Grays Inn and commencing as a criminal barrister in 1999 in Chambers in Chester. In 2005 he wrote his first novel, That Immortal Jukebox Sensation, a dark comedy about a solicitor who decides that he wants to kill a pop-star. His new novel `Whatever Happened To Billy Parks?' is due to be published by The Friday Project, an imprint of Harper Collins, as an e-book in October 2013 and a conventional book in January 2014. Gareth is married to Ines and has three sons. In his younger days he played rugby for North Wales and was a sprinter, once holding the North Wales schoolboy records for the 100 and 200m. He also blogs under the name Ray North for the politics, music and sport website www.Allthatsleft.co.uk.