Morning lovelies! Today I’m on the blog tour for The Boxer Boys Box Set and am delighted to bring you an extract from book one!
Some Family feuds just won’t go away… For 40 years the Dolans and the Marshalls have lived side by side on the same rundown housing estate in east London. While teens Gary Marshall and Arnie Dolan forge a close friendship, fighting constant battles to survive both on the streets and closer to home, the relationship between their parents is complicated and, at times, toxic. Gradually family secrets emerge which have their roots in the early 80s… and Gary and Arnie realise their entire upbringing was built on lies.
GARY SAT ALONE in a cell. He could hear others shouting insults through the bars at each other, a mixture of Welsh and Cockney voices. The custody sergeant and one of the arresting officers had been swapping stories of how it had kicked off big time after the match, with fighting all the way from Upton Park to Paddington. Those arrested represented the tip of the iceberg.
Squeezed into a police van, Gary had been denied the return of his walking stick by the arresting officer, who just laughed. “So you can use it on me? Not likely mate, that’s an offensive weapon, that is.” At the station Gary was booked in by the custody sergeant, who made jibes about his “hardness” and asked him if he had anything to say. He was going to protest his innocence, but figured it would fall on deaf ears.
As time passed he sensed his situation was becoming more serious. Scenes of Crimes officers wandered around and he noticed one had his walking stick in a protective plastic covering. Bit late for that, he thought, remembering the way it had been manhandled from him by the cop at the scene. At one stage he heard a couple of thick Welsh accents shout a word that sent a chill through his bones. “Murderers!”
What could they mean? Had someone been killed? Who? Every week there were battles between warring fans but rarely were they fatal. Gary had always considering football rucks a laugh. You could end up with a few war wounds but they earned you extra kudos when you showed them off in the pub later. A life lost, though? A loved one not returning to their parents, wife or kids? That was going too far.
Finally a key rattled in the lock and two police officers came in, roughly hauled him up and dragged him, limping, to an interview room. A tall, stern-looking man with thick black hair was waiting, a tape recorder at his side. Gary was pushed down in the chair opposite and waited for the man to finish reading the papers in front of him. He felt edgy, as if he was being deliberately kept in the dark about something. He rubbed the troublesome knee, which had been throbbing constantly ever since the fight. The officer looked up. “You OK?”
“I’ve got a busted knee. It can be a bit painful.”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t be running around the streets of east London fighting Welshmen, then,” suggested his interrogator. Gary ignored the jibe. “My name’s Detective Inspector Ashley Wilburn. This initial interview is beginning at 8.30pm. Your name is?”
“Gary… uh, Gary Marshall. Do I need a solicitor?”
“We’ll get to that. This is just a preliminary chat. You’re one of the Boxer Boys?”
“Um, no. Not really.”
“You don’t seem sure. You live on the Boxers Estate though?”
“Well… yeah, but…”
“I think you qualify as a Boxer Boy then, don’t you? Care to tell me what happened after the match today, Gary?”
“Hammers won 2-0.”
“It was three actually, but I wouldn’t expect you to know that. Too busy looking for trouble…”
“That’s unfair,” said Gary. “I was heading home with my mates when we were attacked and chased by Cardiff fans. I can’t run because of the leg and they caught me and gave me a good kickin’. End of story.”
“Hmmm,” said Inspector Wilburn. He leafed again through the papers. “Wasn’t quite the end of the story though, was it?” he said, removing a picture and placing it in front of Gary. “Recognise him?”
The face was battered and bruised and splattered with blood, a nasty gash spreading across the forehead. The eyes were closed. Their owner could have been asleep, resting peacefully, though the pillow was tarmac and the blanket made of black plastic.
“No,” said Gary. “One of those Cardiff yobs I guess…”
“He’s dead, Mr Marshall,” interrupted the Inspector. From beneath the desk he lifted Gary’s walking stick, still enshrined in the plastic evidence bag. Gary’s heartbeat quickened, but he said nothing. “Your ‘crutch’, I do believe and, look here,” his finger pointed at the bottom where a dark smear was clearly visible. “That, Mr Marshall, is blood; this man’s blood,” he tapped the picture. “Now I’m no Cluedo expert but I believe I’ve found the body and the murder weapon. All I need to do now is find out who our Professor Scum is. That shouldn’t be a problem either because we’ve some pretty good CCTV footage from one of the local shops. They show a man in a West Ham shirt… come to think of it a shirt exactly like that one you’re wearing – a No 10 on the back – bashing this poor bloke over the head with this stick. Refresh your memory, Mr Marshall?”
Gary looked back into the earnest, unblinking eyes. “Can I have a solicitor now?” he asked.
about the author
NICK RIPPINGTON is one of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal you never hear about.
As the newspaper’s Welsh Sports Editor, he was made redundant with two days notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid in 2011.
On holiday at the time, Nick was never allowed back into the building, investigators sealed off the area with crime scene tape and seized his computer, which contained all the secrets to his Fantasy Football selections.
Handed the contents of his desk in a black bin bag in a murky car park, deep throat style, Nick was at a crossroads – married just two years earlier and with a wife and 9-month-old baby to support. Options were limited but self-publishing was booming. Having hit on an idea for a UK gangland thriller taking place against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup, in 2015 he produced Crossing The Whitewash.
The book was praised by many, received an honourable mention in the genre category of the Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards and more than 25 five-star reviews on both sides of the pond.
Almost two years after Crossing The Whitewash came the second in the Boxer Boys series, a prequel called Spark Out, which was released in paperback on July 1 and for Kindle on July 10, 2017. The book received an award for best cover of 2017 with the Chill With A Book website, along with a readers award, before receiving the IndieBRAG medallion from a prestigious site covering Independent writers and publishers throughout the world.
The third book in the Boxer Boys series Dying Seconds, a sequel to Crossing the Whitewash, was released in December 2018.
Married to Liz, Nick is now a full-time back bench designer on the Daily Star sports desk and has two daughters – Jemma, 36, and Olivia, 8. A Bristolian at heart, he lives near Ilford, Essex. In the past he has worked for the Sunday Mirror, Wales on Sunday and Media Wales in Cardiff as an executive editor.
tour hosted by
Thanks so much for Sarah for inviting me on to the tour and to Nick and the publisher for sharing some content with us.
Have a wonderful day