I spent much of the second Covid lockdown, that's to say most of last autumn, winter and spring, immersed in late 19th century Hyde. With the unassuming narrator of Blessèd are the Meek, Walter Rowbotham, now a few years older and placed centre stage, my new novel treads on different ground and so to my mind is not a direct sequel. I prefer to think of the two stories as companion pieces.


1885. The young borough of Hyde has a brand new town hall and a fledgling football club. Within two years they have entered the prestigious FA Cup competition and face their first ever tie at Deepdale, the home of Preston North End, one of the most formidable teams in England.


But Twenty-six Nil is more than the retelling of the events of an infamous football match. Offering a glimpse of life in a busy northern mill town, it is a tale of civic pride and companionship, and is a strangely heart-warming story of what was, after all, an almighty defeat.