A Lichfield author’s new book will lift the lid on a footballing fairytale that almost came true.

Simon Turner
Simon Turner

Simon Turner’s 90 Minutes from Europe will take readers back to the summer of 1983 when Walsall were preparing for another season in the Third Division.

But advertising bosses at British Airways wanted to use the club to show how quickly travellers could reach continental cities from regional airports.

The campaign – They’re only 90 minutes away from a place in Europe – came as Walsall were the only West Midlands team never to have taken part in continental competitions.

90 Minutes from Europe by Simon Turner
90 Minutes from Europe by Simon Turner

“Even their most ardent supporters didn’t expect that to change any time soon.

“As the new season started, Walsall looked set for relegation, but they soon embarked on a League Cup campaign that saw them defeat Arsenal, stun Liverpool and come closer to reaching Europe than anyone would have dared imagine.”

Pitch Publishing spokesperson

Simon’s book is based on interviews with players and managers and reveals the truths behind life in the lower leagues, such as the Saddlers’ goalkeeper having to get a night off his bar job to play Arsenal and the chairman locking a player in the boardroom until he agreed to sign a new contract.

For details on where to buy the book, visit the Pitch Publishing website.

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