Review – “The Bromley Boys”, by Dave Roberts

When one indulges themselves with such a singular adolescent pastime as watching your local non-league team home and away, it’s easy to start believing that you’re the only person in the whole world that does this. Non-league crowds are, by and large, old. The average teenage boy turning up at a grubby semi-professional football ground will be disappointed by the number of people of his own age there (and in particular, considering that the optimism of the average teenage boy is surprisingly limitless, that there will be none there of the opposite sex), but this won’t prevent them from going back, all the while wondering whether everyone else in their school class is doing something sexier, more exotic and more debonair. They’re not, on the whole, but there’s not much in it. So, then, to “Bromley Boys”, Dave Roberts’ story of supporting Bromley FC throughout the 1969/70 season – a season which turns out to the the worst in their entire history. This is the story of Anywheresville, Home Counties, and Roberts has brilliantly captured the torpor and hopelessness of bad non-league football as seen through the mask of a fourteen year old boy. What is noticeable to me, as someone that was doing this in the mid to late 1980s, is how familiar it all feels. Non-league football had, in many of its defining characteristics, much more in...

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