The Walthamstow and Derry book launches were a good night out for all those who attended. Twickenham had so much to live up to and without question, succeeded. I set up the stall when I got there. Raffle prizes on the left (and this was a very early raffle set up) PUSH book and latest issue on the right.
Anyway. Notes on the evening. Thanks to Paula and Chris, PUSH was given a superb location for the third part of the book tour. Since the John King interview in issue 12, there has been a number of Chelsea writers and fans who have shown interest in the mag. None more than Dave Johnstone, editor and founder of the Chelsea fanzine cfcuk. He has not only been very supportive of PUSH - he regularly plugs the mag within his own publication - but he has also become a good friend to know. Wise on football and life and completely unselfish; he put me up for the night, with the kind of hospitality that you'd truly want daily! Nice one mate.
Well there was certainly a Chelsea turn out. Many writers too. Some you may know of, John King (The Football Factory, The Prison House), Martin Knight (Hoolifan, Common People), plus the likes of a new breed, Walter Otton and Mark Worrall. I have to thank here, John King, Walter and Dave Johnstone for donating to the raffle. I cannot thank you all enough. Also in attendance was Graham Bush, who plays bass for Madness. He was to have a night that must have been on par with any of his gigs with Madness as you'll soon find out.
It was a good turn out and I did an intro, talked about the running order of events and then the readings began. Sadly we were short of representatives on the night, so I read the opening to the book; 'Gone To The Dogs' by Joseph Ridgwell and 'Where's Grandada?' by Bobby Dean Ward. Word to the wise. Always move mountains to get the writers in to read their work and not your good self when tanked up on booze. But hey, the punters said I did well. Fortunately I had Michael Keenaghan waiting in the wings and he delivered a very smart reading of his story, 'Grafter.'
We then got stuck into the raffle. I had 14 books for sale and offered a £10 deal; book, issue 15 + strip of raffle tickets. The £10 deal sold out within ten minutes. And then there was the scramble for tickets and remaining copies of issue 15. You could appreciate the demand. Issue 15 is very good and I had provided some real gems as prizes; a limited double DVD + poster of This Is England (not my bio documentary, as that comes out in 2016!), When Saturday Comes football fanzine 1990 edition, rare vinyl, books and the odd mint condition retro Subbuteo team. As I said, I don't offer jumble sale items in my raffles. We are talking collectors item quality. Everyone, like all previous launches, bought into the moment. It was all a frenzy. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't buzzing. The main prizes ultimately up for grabs was a full sticker football album from 1971, then the big ones; 2 Subbuteo teams - 1970 Chelsea FA Cup winning team plus a West Ham side made up of 2 Ian's. 5 x Ian Bishop and 5 x Ian Pearce + Ludo in goal. The 2 winners would then enter into the first ever literary penalty shoot out, with the winner walking away with the PUSH trophy.
Now it all got heated when certain prizes didn't go to more than one pair of hands. There's no sharing in a raffle. John King bought possibly £20 worth of tickets and although he won twice, they were both his books donated. But his bitterness was professionally concealed. The big winners on the night was our very own Michael Keenaghan and also - sorry can't remember your name - the happy man who walked away with the sticker book, This Is England and John King's The Prison House 1st edition. But he works in films and said next raffle I had a chance to cherry pick the many film scripts he has in his collection. His winnings, were not, because of that agreement, fixed. The raffle is as honest as I am...
Here he is at the end of the night.
Then it came down to the final. Graham Bush who plays bass for Madness on their tours when their main man can't be bothered, went and won the Chelsea 1970 team while some other fella, I don't remember his name and you'll soon understand why, won the West Ham team. Well, it was late into the night when the teams emerged and the penalty shoot out was about to conclude the evening.
John King was the ref but only seemed interested in talking to and lining up the Chelsea players. I am not saying outright he was biased, but what he was saying to the Chelsea players and Graham Bush about their opposites wasn't that sporting. And in case you are thinking a previous PUSH launch had crowd trouble and this one was being held behind closed doors, the crowd were behind the camera. Soon the shoot out started. Chelsea blasted their first two wide as did West Ham.
Then Chelsea went all German and clinically buried the ball 3 times without any movement in the West Ham goal. West Ham's response was 3 very disappointing attempts. A room full of Chelsea celebrated while the night collapsed on my head. Be careful what you plan. Graham won the trophy and seemed more than happy as he headed home.
A few stayed past midnight while I tried to recover from another West Ham defeat. But this one of my own creation. Still I had my good friend Dave Johnstone to hang out with: he done ok in the raffle too. He won the snide DVD of The Football Factory and PUSH 12.
While Michael Keenaghan and John King considered how it could have all gone the other way if I had been West Ham on the night.
Next stop for PUSH on Tour: TBC.