'THEY ALL think we're scum.' That is the view of two young Newcastle fans, Gerry and his mate Sewell. They are the main characters in Jonathan Tulloch's great novel Season Ticket. Gerry and Sewell live in Gateshead. Sewell's dad is doing a long stretch in prison. Gerry's dad is a violent, abusive drinker.
This is not a feelgood New Labour novel. Indeed it would make David Blunkett and Jack Straw choke on their pre - match corporate hospitality. Tulloch writes of poverty and desolation, but also of dignity, comradeship and hope.
The anger and pain of the disenfranchised and excluded fans shines through. So do the skills of the teachers, who refuse to write kids off despite the destructiveness of league tables. The novel also shows the greed of the football club's owners. They take loyalty so much for granted that they demand a club bond before you can watch a match. Reading this book makes you laugh and cry. Next time you see Blair on telly in a black and white Newcastle strip, then you'll know the true score.
Season Ticket by Jonathan Tulloch is out in paperback, price £10.