Foul Play Series

Foul Play

The Foul Play books are about a fourteen-year-old boy called Danny Harte who wants to solve football crimes.   In the first book Foul Play, Danny stumbles across the kidnap of his favourite player and it all starts there.

Read more about the 5 books in the Foul Play series here:
Foul Play
Dead Ball
Off Side
Killer Pass
Own Goal

Daniel Simpson Certificates
Well done Daniel Simpson!

“I love your Danny Harte books, crime and football mixed together equals absolute brilliance!! Thanks.” Errikos Kokolakis-Harrison

Watch me read from Chapter 1 of Foul Play here.

Email me here if you have read the whole Foul Play series and receive a special signed certificate from me.

Signed and dedicated copies are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2022

More information, free school resources and a competition here to mark  Fairtrade Fortnight 21 February to 6 March 2022 here.

Read first chapters of the rest of the Foul Play series by clicking on the covers below:

foul play 130 DeadBall 130  offside 130 Killer pass less spine 130 owngoal 130

There are more free reads here.

Watch me reading and asking quiz questions by choosing below:

foul play 130 DeadBall 130  offside 130 Killer pass less spine 130 owngoal 130

There are more videos here.


Foul Play series
Foul Play series

2008 Foul Play chosen for Booked Up

2008 Foul Play shortlisted for Blue Peter Book Award

2009 Foul Play shortlisted for Stockton Children’s Book of the Year

Emily Palmer (no relation!) from St Michaels RC School was the winner in the Highly Commended category for her review of Foul Play by Tom Palmer.

2009 Foul Play shortlisted for Calderdale Book of the Year Primary Section

2009 Foul Play 2 : Dead Ball shortlisted for Rotherham Children’s Book Award

2011 Foul Play 3 : Offside shortlisted for Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year Awards

2011 Foul Play 4 : Killer Pass longlisted for Doncaster Book Award

2012 Foul Play 5 : Own Goal longlisted for Red House Children’s Book Award for Younger Readers

2014 Foul Play chosen as one the 100 readformyschool titles.

There are more awards here.

Anton Holt interviews Tom Palmer about writing the Foul Play series

Why did you decide to write about football and crime?
Everyday you read the newspapers or listen to the radio, there are crimes in football. Some chairmen are thieving from clubs. Certain players have some really bad habits and mix with notorious criminals. And a few football agents are terrifying.
I love football and hate this side of the game, a side that has nothing to do with the fans.
I wrote the series because I love crime stories and I love football. I wanted to write something that would be a cross between Match of the Day, and Alex Rider. Something exciting, realistic and about football.

What cases does Danny solve in the series?
Danny takes on a dodgy football chairman and burglars in Foul Play, then a Russian billionaire in Dead BallIn Off Side he takes on a corrupt football agent and in Killer Pass, Danny tackles a burglar of footballer’s houses.  Finally, in the latest book in the series, Own Goal, Danny heads to Italy to tackle a worldwide football scam.

Real Reader Reviews of Foul Play

“Just to say thank you very very much. I have charge of my dear grandson, almost 13, fanatic about football, but makes reading very hard work. I got your book Foul Play at Waterstones, Manchester, and we have read this together, he found it interesting, then wonder upon wonder, I found him reading voluntarily and read 30 pages and said “this is really good”, now buying other two books. We are a family of readers and now Max is joining us. Thanks for opening the door.”  Patricia Harrison, Fox and Hounds, West Burton



TBrazil covero celebrate the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, The National Literacy Trust commissioned two Foul Play stories.  A very big thank you to the tens of thousands of children who listened to their teachers read the story every day in their classrooms.

Foul Play World Cup MysteryRead Foul Play : Brazil 2014 in full here.

Read Foul Play : South Africa 2010 in full here.

A further story was written in 2016 to mark the Six Nations with England Rugby.  Read Foul Play : Six Nations in full here


tom palmer foul play 6

“Tom Palmer is a true reading hero and has been responsible for motivating many thousands of young people to get into books” Booktrust


There are three extra on-line Danny Harte stories:

Read here Danger Academy, a story written in January 2012 for the National Literacy Trust and the Premier League. It’s an 8 part

Maybe Football is Exciting

story in 5 minute chunks, written for reading aloud in classrooms, so feel free to take it into school. Otherwise, it’s just for you to enjoy. (I hope.)

“The boys absolutely love The Danger Academy!” Holy Trinity Catholic Media Arts College

“I just finished reading the Danny Harte story online (I read it all at once because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next) I really really enjoyed it!! Thanks” Sophie

Read here The Character Strikes Back. A five-part Foul Play short story for Years 4, 5 and 6

 “We are reading ‘The Character Strikes Back’ this week, and SO enjoying it! They love the cliffhangers each day and beg me to read on…” Middleham School

Foul Play Reading for Pleasure pack

Danny Harte is the Football Detective” a new Reading for Pleasure pack to accompany the Foul Play series.

Includes Anton Holt Interviews Tom Palmer, Foul Play Discussion Topics, Foul Play stories, My Own Foul Play Story, My Foul Play drawing, Book Reviews, My Book Review.

Download here.


Foul Play 2 : Dead Ball resource

SPAG worksheet here with powerpoint here
based on  Dead Ball – my Russian children’s thriller (useful for linking to the 2018 men’s football World Cup).


Fair Play pack
Fair Play pack

Foul Play 3 : Offside – Fair Play Pack.

Learn about Fair trade, football and literacy, based on my research trip to Ghana to write Foul Play 3 : Offside.

Download here.


Foul Play 5: Own Goal – Writer’s Pack

An insight into how writers write based on the book Foul Play 5 : Own Goal.   Includes : Research; Creating Characters; Themes; Writing; Blurb and Film Trailers.   Each section has a short introduction, discussion topics and a writing project. I also have certificates I can sign and dedicate for pupils who have enjoyed the pack.

Download here.

The Own Goal resource is fabulous. Thank you very much for that. We are reading Own Goal as a class reader and the boys love it.” University College School

Original covers

More Literacy resources for all my other books are here.


Waterstones – We love this book

The first Foul Play book was originally part of a series called the Football Detective.

The original Foul Play book featured a shiny silver cover.

Dead Ball quickly followed with a metallic red cover and a cut out of Danny running away from Moscow’s famous St Basil’s cathedral in Russia where part of the book is set.

Then the name Foul Play caught on and that became the new name for the whole series. Puffin gave Foul Play and Dead Ball new jackets and designed a new logo.

I hope you like the new name & covers. Have you noticed what is in each of the player’s hands?


Email me here for more information about any of my books.

Buy Books

Signed and dedicated copies are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here.

Foul Play series
Foul Play series

Foul Play 1 Amazon
Foul Play 2 :  Dead Ball Amazon
Foul Play 3 : Off Side Amazon
Foul Play 4 : Killer Pass  Amazon
Foul Play 5 : Own Goal  Amazon
Set Amazon




Email me here what you thought about Foul Play and for more information about my books or use my contact form here.

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