Newcastle-under-fire boss Steve Bruce wrote three detective novels that became cult classics worth £ 200 on eBay – The Sun
The WITHOUT COMPROMISE center-half, Manchester United legend and hard-line manager are normally phrases used to best describe Steve Bruce.
But the Newcastle United manager in the spotlight is also a cunning and prolific writer, writing three detective novels published between 1999 and 2000.
Bruce was running Huddersfield Town when he wrote the epic Striker trilogy! Sweeper! and Defender!
The books, which Bruce himself called “A laughing stock”, are semi-autobiographical – the main character is called Steve Barnes.
And the storylines and the literature itself can be laughable too.
However, somehow they have become cult classics that cost as much as £ 200 on eBay and Amazon, if you can find the rarities.
The first novel, which originally cost £ 12, was 127-page Striker!
Written in first person, it immerses you directly in the action of Barnes, manager of the fictional town of Leddersford – a small historic club aiming to promote the Premier League.
It opens with Barnes finding young Irish striker Pat Duffy stabbed to death in the locker room.
The cover represents this scene beautifully, except for the fact that Duffy looks like a giant layered on a soccer field.
Suspected of murder, Barnes must clear his name – so he inexplicably decides to launch his own investigation, while juggling a football career.
He’s up against Irish mobsters and also becomes the target of a sniper in the stands while managing his team in a table-top clash against Fulham in the book finale, carefully wrapped in four pages. .
Oddly, Bruce likes to mention facts about Barnes’ car throughout the story, even when he’s on a low-key follow-up.
“I drive a Jaguar XJ8, 3.2, the sporty version,” he wrote.
“It’s a very nice engine; all-alloy 3.2-liter AJ-V8 engine. Classic color interior theme, fluted leather seats, contrast color dashboard, figured walnut veneer.
“As good engine as you can hope to drive.
“But not a car that you would choose trying to keep track of a Ford sedan in a low-key fashion… my registration, license and all other statutory details are fully up to date.”
Later he writes: “I locked the car with central locking. The XJ8 has a complete security system with ultrasonic intrusion detection, radio frequency remote control and engine immobilizer.
“Everything is necessary: it is a desirable engine.”
The thriller has become an unlikely classic on Amazon.
An ironic reviewer wrote: “It’s such a bad book it’s good, dare I say great. It shatters its ties to moral truths.”
Another said: “That Bruce spent so much of his life on the football field and not behind his typewriter should be a tragedy for literature.”
The follow-up was Sweeper! – a tale that takes us through a web of intrigue featuring Yugoslav warlords, lesbian prostitutes, Nazi hunter spies and more.
Once again, the murder plot centers around Leddersford Town, which has to be football’s most unlucky club in the world.
An Amazon reviewer wrote about Sweeper! : “We can’t do justice to the efficiency and grasp of Bruce’s writing style.
“He really is a modern day Arthur Conan Doyle. Wow!”
Their beloved gardener, Sam Milton is murdered, so Barnes (once again) takes it upon himself to solve the crime.
Stranger sets follow, including a moment when Barnes is kidnapped by British Secret Service agents who ask him to go undercover.
He refuses, saying his country never wanted him and he didn’t get international caps, so he wouldn’t be suitable for the role.
Of course, Bruce himself is one of the most decorated players to never have an English cap.
Proving Barnes still has it, he manages to take out a villain with a trusted slide tackle in Sweeper!
The last tome in the trilogy was Defender! again with Steve Barnes.
Its only review on Amazon states: “Does for the English language what the Luftwaffe did in Coventry.” “
Writer born in Derry Seamas O’Reilly, an avowed Bruce literary expert, announced the series of books.
He published a review of the attacker! in 2015, and by the end of the year, a copy was up for sale on eBay for £ 200.
“Loved it. There was so much crazy stuff,” he said. the bbc about reading Striker!
“The book is filled with kidnappings, betrayals and suspense.
“Near the finish, a sniper shoots a soccer ball under Steve Barnes’ foot as he stands in the technical area at the end of a game.”
Seamas called Sweeper! the “Magnus opus” but Defender! was “disappointing” and “uneventful”.
“There are so many weird decisions made in the writing of these books, like how the world is built,” he continued.
“So for example there are fake names replacing real places, like Leddersford for Huddersfield and Mulcaster for Manchester.
“But, he also talks about Manchester United and mentions Alex Ferguson.
“It’s like reading a Batman comic book where he takes a train from Gotham to New York.”
At first, Bruce’s son Alex denied that his father wrote them.
However, he later made a dramatic confession on Twitter to BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher.
And in 2016, while managing Aston Villa, Bruce revealed that the books are absolutely genuine.
“Have you read them? He replied when asked by Sky Sports if there were more in the pipeline.
“Go read them and you will understand why.”