“Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? is a darkly comical, fantastically engaging and unabashedly sentimental portrait of a once great footballer that grapples with many modern-day preoccupations – alcohol addiction, the effects of fame and how we mythologise our sporting heroes – but never at the price of fine, page-turning storytelling.”
Arifa Akbar, literary editor of The Independent
A vivid and engaging story of wasted talent, second chances, family, friendship, and, of course, the beautiful game.
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.
About Gareth R Roberts:
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. Gareth is married to Ines and has three sons.
Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? is published by The Friday Project.