Book Review: The Boy Who Wanted to Fly, by Don Mullan

In The Boy Who Wanted to Fly, author Don Mullan shows just how far-reaching the influence of a child’s footballing idol can be. Mullan grew up in Northern Ireland, at a time when the problems with separatism and terrorism were in a lull. Therefore the fascination of one young schoolboy with the goalkeeper of England’s national football team could pass without major comment.

The relationship between fan and idol rarely goes deeper than a superficial, footballing sense. However in this case, it did. What began as a footballing hero for a promising young ’keeper Mullan, became a figure upon which he could model his personal life, and played a strong part in developing his character, when, as time went on, other youngsters found less positive influences. As Mullan himself says in the book, Unknown to Banks, he helped save a young fan from making choices that had brought too much sorrow and sadness to Irish and British alike.”

In modern day football, role models are hard to come by, but Mullan explains how in Banks, he found the basis for morality, learned a work ethic, and became a gentlemen.

His attachment to Banks helps him get through times of personal trauma and political instability, as he enters adulthood. As the problems began to increase in Ireland, he found strength in Gordon Banks.

Added to the positive feelings Mullan gained from meeting Banks in person, especially as a child, are the associated emotions for Mullan and his father, who planned the whole meeting, and creates further co-existence of Banks with his personal life.

The way Mullan gets his experiences and emotions across in this book make the connection between the fan and idol all the more powerful, and produce a very interesting, intense and thought-provoking message to the reader, helping to conjure up images of thousands of young football fans with posters of footballers across their bedroom wall, hopefully finding in today’s footballers, the same inspiration as Don did on Gordon Banks.

A Different League book rating: 4/5

You can order The Boy Who Wanted to Fly online here

Publisher: Legend Press Ltd, London, United Kingdom
Published: 2nd Oct 2010
ISBN-10: 1907756019
ISBN-13: 9781907756016

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