Sports book publishers Pitch Publishing and Floodlit Dreams are delighted to announce an exciting partnership to create an innovative hat-trick of new football short stories under the banner Football Shorts.

Pitch and Floodlit Dreams will be publishing three books a year of around 30,000 words each by high quality writers telling personal stories about aspects of football and its characters, and the effect of the game on their own lives. The series will be curated by Floodlit Dreams founder Ian Ridley, who will also write the first book in the series, on the late national footballing treasure Jimmy Armfield, to be published in January 2023.

Pitch Publishing's Jane Camillin said, "We are really excited by this venture. When Ian approached us with the idea, we could immediately see its potential and are thrilled to be working with him to produce this series of high-quality reads at an affordable price. The paperbacks will retail at just £9.99 each and there will be a chance to subscribe and get all three for £25, all signed by the authors, which we think also makes a great gift."

Ian Ridley said, "Pitch have created an admirable and hugely successful sports publishing business with a now well-established infrastructure of marketing and distribution that we at FD do not possess as we produce comparatively few books. What we do have, I believe, is a good eye for a story and the ability to attract some very fine, experienced writers. There is consequently a perfect synergy between the two companies that can bring this concept to life.’

The first book, by Ridley, is entitled Pantomime Hero and will tell of his relationship with the legendary late Blackpool and England captain Jimmy Armfield, member of the World Cup-winning squad of 1966 and subsequently a highly respected manager, administrator and broadcaster. At the centre of the book will be the story of how Armfield took over from Brian Clough as manager at Leeds United after the fabled and fateful 44 days in 1974 and lifted the mood of the club.

Ian added, "Jimmy was a such well-loved figure in the game and beyond and I was proud to call him a friend, and proud to help him finally get a medal for being in the ’66 World Cup back-up squad. I was particularly intrigued by that time in ’74 when he was entrusted with restoring some morale at Leeds following The Damned United era and, amazingly, put on a pantomime starring the players at the City Varieties Theatre and sold it out. I always wanted to write something about Jimmy and with the help and input of his sons Duncan and John and their own memories, I am going to try and do Jimmy justice."

The second book in the series, The Homecoming, to be published in August 2023, will be written by Jane Purdon, former chief executive of Women in Football, telling of her trailblazing role in the women’s game, the amazing Lionesses summer that saw them win the European Championship, and the effect since on the state of the game as we go into the Women’s World Cup next summer.

September 2023 will see the publication of the third book, The Blue Boy, by comedian, TV and radio writer and novelist Andy Hamilton, who grew up a few streets from Chelsea FC and will document his boyhood love and support for the club that he came to question as disappointment grew with maturity at events at Stamford Bridge, both on and off the pitch.

"Jane and Andy are superb writers and I just know these are going to be wonderful books," says Ian. "The whole emphasis of this project is going to be on the writing, with engaging personal tales and vignettes. The anecdotes and observations that Jane and Andy will share will be poignant, trenchant and entertaining."

Ian explains how the books came about. "During lockdowns, I read a lot of books and sometimes I just felt like a shorter football read without being able to find many. I can’t believe I’m alone in that. I think there is a widespread desire for great stories succinctly and well told, which is why I went to Pitch for the logistics and expertise needed to attract a wide audience.

"I am kicking it all off because nobody else seemed to want the job! We quickly found, however, that big writers did want to be a part of it and were willing to contribute for the future. Early next year, we hope to be announcing three more books and writers for 2024 and I think people are going to be mightily impressed by the top trio with whom we already have agreements in principle."

Jane added, "With such good writing, the job of marketing and selling should be much easier than it often is in publishing these days. We know these are tough times for people and books might be seen as luxuries but we all need diversion and dreams and these books represent a great value gift and a low-cost way of escaping into riveting sports stories."

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