The Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year
The Times Sports Book of the Year
'Ferris's wonderful memoir represents a twin triumph. He has endured every kind of setback in life but has invariably reinvented himself; and his writing is a pure pleasure.' The Sunday Times
'An early contender for sports book of the year' Press Association
'A masterpiece of the genre' Brian McNally
'Football memoirs rarely produce great literature but Ferris's The Boy on the Shed is a glistening exception.' The Guardian
'Fascinating and stylishly told.' David Walsh, The Sunday Times
The Boy on the Shed is a story of love and fate. At 16, Paul Ferris becomes Newcastle United's youngest-ever first-teamer. Like many a tricky winger from Northern Ireland, he is hailed as 'the new George Best'.
As a player and later a physio and member of the Magpies' managerial team, Paul's career acquaints him not only with Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Bobby Robson, Ruud Gullit, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer but also with injury, insecurity and disappointment.
Yet this autobiography is more than a tale of the vagaries of sporting fortune. It begins during 'The Troubles' in a working-class Catholic family in the Protestant town of Lisburn, near Belfast. After a childhood scarred by his mother's illness and sectarian hatred, Paul meets the love of his life, his future wife Geraldine.
Talented and carefree on the pitch, shy and anxious off it, he earns a tilt at stardom. His first spell at Newcastle turns sour, as does his return as a physio, although obtaining a Masters degree shows him what he could achieve away from football.
When Paul qualifies as a barrister, a career in Law beckons. Instead, a craving to prove himself in the game draws him back to St James' Park as part of Shearer's management triumvirate - with unfortunate consequences.
Written with brutal candour, dark humour and consummate style, The Boy on the Shed is a riveting and moving account of a life less ordinary.
Paul Ferris was a teenage prodigy, becoming Newcastle United's youngest-ever player in 1982, only for injury to ensure his promise went unfulfilled. He later returned to the club as a physiotherapist before earning a Master's degree and beginning a successful quest to qualify as a barrister. But the lure of football was always strong and he went back for a third spell at Newcastle, as Head of the Medical Department, again working closely with a host of big-name players and managers. Paul also became a novelist and now runs a successful health and fitness business.
This will be one of the most talked about football books of 2018. — Henry Winter
A remarkable piece of writing...Life, death, love, leaving home, motherly relationships, striving, all weaved into the football journey and every page I found myself relating to his experiences, some very personal...So much more than a sporting memoir. You could take so much from it without an interest in football. — Simon Bird, Football Correspondent, Daily Mirror
An excellent read. — Alan Shearer
Paul Ferris has a good story to tell, in fact several, Irish and Geordie, politics and football, and he tells it well, avoiding the obvious pitfalls of trying to be either lyrical or philosophical or too clever. — Hunter Davies
It is also not a run-of-the-mill book about football, but a well-rounded, exceedingly candid account of his life on and off the pitch and of his family, warts and all. — Belfast Telegraph
Unique, interesting, extremely emotive and gives some insight that supporters have never heard before...His story is raw and will keep you engaged without using any exaggerations which try to win over readers...Ferris has pushed himself forward extremely well in his new book, so well that any Newcastle supporter's book collection will be incomplete without The Boy on the Shed in it. — Newcastle Chronicle
Paul Ferris has written a book that transcends genres...Ferris writes with the sort of fluency that, on the pitch, once impressed peers such as Paul Gascoigne.Ferris has gone beyond standard sports autobiographies. The Boy On The Shed is of a time and place, of Ireland, of Northern Ireland, of growing up a Catholic on a Protestant estate in Lisburn in the 1970s. It is a story of everyday sectarianism and its effects...These books offer a window on another world. Paul Ferris spent much of his childhood in Lisburn looking through one. What he saw, how he understood it and didn't understand it, is gripping. — Irish Times
Once opened, you will be unable to put it down. — Chronicle Live
Superb — Oliver Holt
What a life, what a book...it is excellent. Sports book of the year. — BBC Radio 2 Simon Mayo
A stirring testament to the strength of the human condition and the power of ideas. — Sunday Times Northern Ireland
An early contender for sports book of the year, The Boy On The Shed is not only a great story of a man who came tantalisingly close to making it as a top-flight footballer (and went on to achieve so much else besides), but is simultaneously engaging, well-paced and, like the very best stories, well written. — Press Association
Paul Ferris's compelling memoir is different. For starters, he wrote it all himself, beautifully. Also, it extends well beyond football...It has been quite a journey from the garden shed he used to climb, back in Lisburn, that gives this engaging book its title - and one which thoroughly confounds the notion of the idiot footballer. — Daily Mail
The appeal of his astute story-telling is that this book works on levels that reach far beyond football.
The Boy on the Shed reveals an impressive triumph of human resilience over adversity as well as a truly gifted wordsmith.
— Sunday Mirror
Quite simply one of the best football memoirs I've ever read and I've worked my way through rather a lot. Paul Ferris writes beautifully and weaves a fascinating tale that lures you into not wanting to put this wonderful book down. A masterpiece of the genre. — Brian McNally
Football memoirs rarely produce great literature but Ferris's The Boy on the Shed is a glistening exception, which sets a short career with Newcastle United against the backdrop of a Catholic childhood in a protestant stronghold of Northern Ireland. He's witty, emotional and painfully self-revealing. If, as Alan Shearer intimates in the foreword, a second book is on the way, he may turn out to be the new Frank McCourt. — The Guardian
Ferris writes so well about the sensation of playing that those who have never kicked a ball are given a glimpse of how to be a footballer. This is so much more than a memoir about the game, however. This is rare male honesty about crippling shyness, love and despair and so very moving about the relationship between a mother and her son. — Alyson Rudd, The Times
If by any chance you like a good book and you are not averse to sport, even football, take this recommendation. It is called The Boy on the Shed and it was written by Paul Ferris. Ferris's story is fascinating and stylishly told. — David Walsh, The Sunday Times
In a genre too often mired in platitudes, former Newcastle and Northern Ireland winger Ferris's account of growing up Catholic in Protestant Lisburn - and the football career that promised him a way out - stands out for its honesty and humour. — i Paper
A fascinating life story, bearing much heart and soul as well as being 'warts and all'. It is well worth reading for its honesty and its insights by any reader and will be a particularly absorbing read for anyone with an interest or love for 'the beautiful game' as well as Ulster readers and those who remember the would-be local football star from these shores. — Irish Tatler
This is a fascinating life story, bearing much heart and soul as well as being warts and all'. It is well worth reading for its honesty and its insights by any reader and will be a particularly absorbing read for anyone with an interest or love for 'the beautiful game'. — Ulster Tatler
A roller coaster read with appeal beyond football fans, this is a tale of struggle and tragedy, of love and hope, and offers humbling reality as an alternative to the traditional "rags to riches" adventure. — Daily Express
In literary terms, his autobiography is far and away the best book here. Not for nothing was it shortlisted for the William Hill sports book of the year award. As with Nick Hornby's peerless classic it will endure beyond a convenient Christmas stocking filler for your dad. That's because it's not about sport, but rather about the far bigger themes of family, pain, identity, masculinity and loss. — Robert Crampton, The Times