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The Gigante by Robert Endeacott

11.99
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The Gigante by Robert Endeacott

11.99

FIRST 100 ORDERS RECEIVE A SIGNED COPY OF THE GIGANTE WHILST STOCKS LAST (LAST FEW REMAINING), AND NOW FOR CHRISTMAS A FREE HALLY INK LEEDS UNITED PIN BADGE TOO!

In 1957 a reluctant John Charles travelled to Italy having been sold for a record fee to Juventus. Leaving Leeds behind he nervously relocated his family to a new country and began a new career in Turin. Playing with a target on his back was nothing new but he had never experienced the level of attention that lay ahead. In this fictional retelling of his time in Italy you get to witness Charles' journey from nervous new boy to il Gigante Buono - the Gentle Giant.

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FIRST 100 ORDERS RECEIVE A SIGNED COPY OF THE GIGANTE WHILST STOCKS LAST (LAST FEW REMAINING), AND NOW FOR CHRISTMAS A FREE HALLY INK LEEDS UNITED PIN BADGE TOO!

In 1957 a reluctant John Charles travelled to Italy having been sold for a record fee to Juventus. Leaving Leeds behind he nervously relocated his family to a new country and began a new career in Turin. Playing with a target on his back was nothing new but he had never experienced the level of attention that lay ahead. In this fictional retelling of his time in Italy you get to witness Charles' journey from nervous new boy to il Gigante Buono - the Gentle Giant.

Extract - Introduction

A peaceful, pleasantly warm autumn night was about to be unpleasantly disturbed. Not long after the neighbourhood bells of St Mary’s Church tolled twice in the morning of Tuesday 18th September 1956, the night sky and the clouds above Elland Road football ground took on a curious, pale glow of amber and yellow. These Northern Lights were no delight of nature; this phenomenon was disastrous.

Deep in the ground-level confines of the stadium’s West Stand, corrupted wiring created a spate of sparks. In turn, these tiny explosions travelled along the wiring giving them life to react and smoulder. Woodwork and wallpaper ignited, tributaries and rivulets formed, trickles of fire became torrents, expanding, splintering; soon there were arteries of hell snaking through the central depths of the stand, gathering strength and momentum, fiery talons seizing, devouring anything in their path. So much wood, paper, carpeting, polystyrene, plastics, rubber, leather, fabrics, paint, fuels. All destroyed within furious minutes, the labyrinth of rooms and offices and corridors rapidly gutted. And the ruination had only just begun. In less than a quarter of an hour, the grandstand of two thousand eight hundred wooden seats and the many yards of timber flooring were ablaze. The devastation relentless, merciless.

The roof of the West Stand was an unusual structure: two conjoined, extended arches, eighty-by-ten yards of prefabricated steel covered with tarpaulin, asphalt and bitumen. The pitch-side section of the roof, slightly longer than the rear, normally served as shelter for match-day spectators standing in the paddock below. All of it would be gone in minutes, consumed by the inferno, toxic particles dirtying the Leeds air further. Fragments of debris plummeting to the ground, molten bitumen and asphalt falling on to wood below. The flames fed on oxygen and, as the fire intensified, a rush of fresh air was sucked up towards the burning roof, in effect a huge bellows in motion. The enormous furnace grew larger and hotter, flames stretched into the night sky, the unstoppable carnage spreading as a rash across the length of the roof.

Five fire engines and crews were required to extinguish the Elland Road fire, taking hours to do so. Even then, another, smaller fire reignited within the wreckage in the following days. The player dressing rooms, the club’s administration offices, the directors’ boardroom, the press box and the laundry room that doubled as a referee’s dressing room were all destroyed, along with their contents. Ten sets of football kits, untold pairs of football boots, the physiotherapy equipment, over thirty leather footballs, hundreds and hundreds of spectator seat cushions, the lighting generators, the office equipment and paperwork – the club’s history – all transformed to smoke. The imposing architecture of the West Stand had ceased to exist, its body gutted, its once perfect skeleton now a warped and disfigured mass of blackened unsafe metal, the vertical steel girders over-sized, used matchsticks.

A desolate picture of ruination, upsetting to behold and difficult to comprehend. But no casualties, at least there were no casualties, not even the unofficial owner-occupant of the West Stand; Blackie the cat returned a few days later, suspicious but unscathed. A whole new stand was required. Its construction was planned to begin early the next year, 1957, with four thousand seats to be installed and the paddock standing area capacity also increased. The planning was the easy part. With a reported £40,000 insurance compensation paid to the club for the fire, over £60,000 was thus needed, and with every home game the team played without the stand and spectators there, the lost or missing revenue was near as damn it one thousand pounds. A money miracle was needed to shine on Leeds United, but miracles didn’t happen, even in God’s Own Country of Yorkshire.