A heart-rending but life-affirming story of love, loss, football and family set in the Catholic working-class community of Glasgow.
In the early winter of 1983, a generous season for memories, Michael Tierney attended his first - and only - game with his father, John. For a self-employed electrician with nine children to support, this was the rarest of opportunities. Miraculously, Celtic overturned a first-leg deficit to thrash Sporting Lisbon, 5-0, with a team of home-grown talent, players that felt as one with the fans.
As the years pass, that one magical evening fades in the bustle of family commitments and the constant spectre of unemployment. Then, in 2002, John Tierney has a severe stroke that renders him immobile and unable to talk. For his wife Catherine, for Michael and his five sisters and three brothers, the landscape of life would change irrevocably. But three decades later, Michael and his wheelchair-bound parent would make an emotional return to Celtic Park.
The First Game with My Father is an evocative family memoir and a journey of discovery into lives that diverge, yet are knitted together by moments of sorrow and joy, and into the nature of identity, especially when tragedy renders a man voiceless. The most intimate portrait of a father and son and how a football team unites them in an unbreakable bond, it is also the story of a city, a community, and a treasured way of life.
“A distance of more than five years from the newspaper industry has not separated Michael Tierney from the imperative of immediately grabbing the reader by the lapels and giving the story straight and true with the concussive power of a headbutt and with a narrative that dizzies the senses… an extraordinary book.”
“A beautiful and lyrical memoir about the transformative power of sport… wonderful style. Tierney's book adds to the canon of great sports writing, which uses sport as a way of interrogating human interaction.”
“Beautifully written family memoir, set in the Catholic working-class community of Glasgow, which tells a poignant but life-affirming story of love, loss and family.”
“One of the most moving stories I've ever read... I was completely blown away by it.”
Paul Cuddihy, editor of Celtic View
“So moving, I love it.”
Damian Barr, author of Maggie and Me
“A moving, masterful tome.”
Back Page Press