Confessions from Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (Part 2): The Football Special

The Ref and The Players - The North (in Red/Black) The South (in Yellow/Blue)

The Ref and The Players – The North (in Red/Black) The South (in Yellow/Blue)

One of the great new additions to the festival programme this year was the football match. At 6.30pm on Saturday evening two teams of brave crime writers lined up to be counted in a passionate and thrilling match for the Harrogate Crime Writers North vs South Challenge Cup.

The teams, pictured here at the start of the match with Referee Mark Billingham, were:

  • For the North (sponsored by Fox Spirit): Luca Veste, Craig Robertson, Nick Quantrill, Col Bury, Howard Linskey, Vincent Holland-Keen, Dan Stewart and Graham Smith.
  • For the South (sponsored by Crime Files): Tim Weaver, Chris Ewan, James Law, Graeme Cameron, Tom Witcomb, Adam Hamdy, Ian Ayris and Darren Laws.

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With a large crowd of spectators assembled to watch them the match kicked off and right from the start the competition was fierce. The North, with great form from their convincing win at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers Football Match last year, started strong, but the South were determined to give them a challenge and at first possession seemed equally held.

Then the first goal came – from Luca Veste for the North – and from then on the goals from the North kept on coming.

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A short time later it seemed like the South might shorten the gap with Tim Weaver putting the ball in the back of the net. But the goal was disallowed because it occurred after Craig Robertson saved a goal from Tom Witcomb – whose momentum took him illegally (but accidentally) into the box where he illegally (accidentally) flattened Craig – both players were still on the ground when the ball went in the net). Despite some player protests, Referee Mark Billingham stood firm in his decision to disallow the illegal goal, and the teams played on.

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The action was fast and the teams were cheered on as they chased the ball up and down the field with vigor and determination right to the final whistle. Although the South played valiantly to the end, this match was all about the North – with the final score standing at 6-0 to the North. The goals scored by Luca Veste (1), Howard Linskey (2) and Col Bury (3). Craig Robertson saved two penalties.

The match was a real crowd pleaser, with the enthusiastic crowd cheering on the teams the whole way through. But this sporting event didn’t pass without the sheading of blood, sweat and (probably) tears. Confirmed injuries included a fractured wrist (Graeme Cameron) and a fractured ankle (Luca Veste) – and it’s worth noting the grit of these players as they played on with their injuries, Luca still managing to hit the bar and post after his.

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As the triumphant North held high the Harrogate Crime Writers North vs South Challenge Cup later that evening, talk was already turning to the 2016 rematch, and the rigorous training schedules that the players would be putting in place in preparation.

Massive kudos to all who played. It was a fabulous event and one that I’ll be super excited to see return in 2016!

Val McDermid presents the cup to The North (photo credit: Fenris Oswin)

Val McDermid presents the cup to The North (photo credit: Fenris Oswin)

[with thanks to Kat Miller and Luca Veste for the excellent action photos]

Audio Book Addict’s Review: Laidlaw by William McIlvanney

Self-confessed audio book and crime fiction addict James Law drops by the CTG blog to talk about his most recent listen …

Laidlaw: Audible Audio Edition Cover

Laidlaw: Audible Audio Edition Cover

Laidlaw: A Laidlaw Investigation, Book 1

Author: William McIlvanney

Narrated by: William McIlvanney

Run time: 7 hrs and 17 mins

Unabridged – released on audiobook 02/05/2013

What the blurb says: “Meet Jack Laidlaw, the original damaged detective. When a young woman is found brutally murdered on Glasgow Green, only Laidlaw stands a chance of finding her murderer from among the hard men, gangland villains and self-made moneymen who lurk in the city’s shadows. Winner of the CWA Silver Dagger.”

The original coiner of ‘There’s been a murrrderr,’ this is the introduction to William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw, a detective in Glasgow that is different to many of his colleagues. Laidlaw seems to have a deeper understanding of criminals and the crime underworld – he sees the human traits that show that they are still people, despite their sometimes-terrible actions.

When a young girl is murdered Laidlaw picks up the scent and begins to navigate the Glasgow ganglands searching for the killer. To find her he must utilise a knowledge of the city that is hidden from many of his fellow officers, he must slip into the underbelly of society and understand that it is often not what people say, but what they don’t, that may lead him to his goal.

This novel is beautifully written and gripping from the start. I once heard Ian Rankin say that it was McIlvanney’s novels that influenced his own work. It was that comment that made me look for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. A self-confessed audio book addict, I loved the story, the vivid description of Glasgow and its people, and the narration. McIlvanney obviously knows his city and characters intimately and this comes across in the faultless delivery of this story.

The length was just right, although I would have happily listened for longer. I believe that the second book is being recorded and I will certainly be listening to it as soon as it is released.

Highly recommended.

[James Law bought his copy of the Laidlaw audiobook]