Liverpool FC Heretic


I’ve just finished reading Red or Dead, Bill Shankley’s fictionalized biography by David Peace. As a long-time Liverpool fan I couldn’t really avoid it. I picked it up in a bookshop and it opened at pretty much the best paragraph in the book, where Bill Shankley tells Jock Stein that the return leg of a European tie will not be played in England but in Liverpool. And I was sold.

But, unfortunately, for me, this was a victory for style over content. Yes, I absolutely loved the content, but it was wrecked by the style, by the repetitivity of the formulaic manuscript, of the repetitivity on every page, the repetitivity in every paragraph, the repetitivity in nearly every sentence, the repetitivity… oh, you get the idea.

Perhaps I would have been better going for one of the biographies listed as sources. But I didn’t. I went for Red or Dead. Over 700 pages of Red or Dead. Over 700 pages of repetitions.

One good thing about the repetitions – it meant that I could skip pages and pages of repetitious crap. You could skim by page pattern in the end – until the post-career Shankly, where, oddly enough, Peace breaks out (sorry!) of the formula and simply tells the story without too much repetition. And I was almost prepared to forgive him for the **** (insert own expletive here) that came before.


Hey, I Googled repetitivity, to check the spelling more than anything, and found tedious repetitivity. Wish I’d looked earlier.


About Bob Neilson

Bob Neilson lives in Dublin with his wife, two daughters, son, two dogs, one cat and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. In partnership with his wife he runs a successful retail business in Dublin city. His short fiction has appeared extensively in professional and small press markets and he has had two plays performed on RTE and one on Anna Livia FM. He also presented a radio show on Anna Livia for a year. He has had two short story collections published, Without Honour (1997, Aeon Press) and That’s Entertainment (2007, Elastic Press) as well as several comics and a graphic novel. His non-fiction book on the properties of crystals is a best-seller in the UK and Ireland.
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