I wasn’t keen on reading when I was young. My mum was worried about me because I didn’t do very well at school. She encouraged me to read about football in newspapers, magazines and books. Gradually I came to love books.
And, from that point, my life changed. I wanted to know everything about books. I went to night school to do A levels when I was 21. Then I did a degree in European Literature when I was 24. It was brilliant!
After I had graduated, I went to work in a bookshop, then a library, then I managed book festivals. All that time I was writing: stories, poems, diaries and books for adults. Then – after a few years – I was lucky enough to have one of my football books for children accepted by Puffin.
Read my biography page here.
Watch a video Q & A I did recently with Hamstel Junior School….
Read a recent interview with me by pupils from Tettenhall College published in their school newspaper.
Meet me at one of my events.
Email me with any questions here .
Visit my Bookshop
Born: Yorkshire Day, 1st August 1967, Leeds
Team: Leeds United
Favourite stadium visited: Elland Road, Leeds (but also Bernabeu, Spain and Hearts of Oak, Ghana)
Favourite footballer : Lucas Radebe, Leeds
Favourite rugby player : Danny Care, England
Favourite football magazine: World Soccer
Favourite football book: Keeper by Mal Peet
Food: Fair Trade chocolate
Country: New Zealand
Drink: Yorkshire tea
Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked a lot of questions. These are the most popular ones:
Why do you support Leeds?
I was born there. And being a Leeds fan is a special destiny.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Newspapers. Football is full of crime. I read about it the newspapers. When a story grips me I know it’s one I can use in a book.
How many books have you written?
37 in total. About spies, detectives, ghosts, war, airmen, rugby, friendship, parents and football.
How long does it take to write a book?
What research do you do for your books?
If I write about a place I need to have been there. I went to Ghana to research Off Side, the third Foul Play book. Part of it is based in Africa, so I though it was important.
Do you get help writing the books?
I do. First off my wife, then three other writers in my writing group, then my agent, then my editors. They all make great contributions. The books are a lot better because I try to listen to what people say about them. I hope.
Do you know any other writers?
A few. I sometimes work with Helena Pielichaty who writes the Girls FC books. I used to work for bookshops and libraries, so I met a few then. But most of my friends aren’t writers.
What other jobs have you had?
Librarian. Bookseller. Milkman. Post office bag sorter. VDU operator. University lecturer. I liked them all, except the last two.
Do you come into schools?
I do. I love it. I can bring an inflatable goal or rugby posts and host y Football Reading Game or Rugby Reading Game complete with penalty shoot outs. I also offer a Historical Fiction option for my author visits. Ask your teacher if she or he would like me to come in.