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Book Review: “Golden Daze” by Nick Corble 11/11/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Because I want to, OK?

Author Nick Corble is a Watford fan, and both a reader of these pages and erstwhile reliable contributor to our “Five a Day Awaydays” initiative of two seasons ago (see category links to your right).  He was generous enough to send me a free copy of his first novel, and so it seemed only fair to review it.

As the title – and the review’s presence on these pages – suggest, the story is played out to a Watford backdrop being both largely set in the town, and incidentally tracking the progress of the 1983/84 season in general and the Uefa Cup and FA Cup campaigns in particular.  Central character Colin is a Watford fan, and there’s much to remember, enjoy and vicariously relive through Colin’s exploits for those of a suitable vintage.

If the truth be told, much of the Watford detail grates a little bit.  Knowing who scored against Birmingham City in the quarter-finals doesn’t really contribute to the narrative in hand, for example, and there’s rather too much of that even for a Watford anorak like me.  Occasional statistical inaccuracies irritate too, even if I’m likely to be in a minority of readers who either know or care that the League Cup wasn’t sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board when the Hornets reached the semi-finals in 1979.

That said, some of the football-related stuff is hugely evocative, not least the passages that take place on the terraces at Vicarage Road stadium, and the build up to the 1984 Cup Final is well described.

And, having been slightly disappointed by the handling of the stuff that I read the book for, I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the narrative of which Watford’s fortunes run in the background.  The main character is instantly likeable, as he stumbles out of University and tries to work out what happens next, and his friends, family and myriad of work colleagues at a string of part-time jobs are skilfully and affectionately drawn.  By the time I was a quarter of the way into the book I was genuinely hooked, and consumed it in under a week.

“Golden Daze” is strongly recommended by this reader, whether or not you have any affiliation with the Hornets.  For Watford fans, particularly those of a suitable age, it’s a stocking filler that shouldn’t be passed up.  Nick is publishing the book privately; you can order a copy at http://www.nickcorble.co.uk. If you quote the promotional code BHAPPY you can obtain a £1 discount on the offer price.

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