I wrote Defenders soon after I finished Troublemakers. My son, Tom, was playing for a Sunday League football team at the time, and I remember watching an eight-year-old boy who cared so much when he missed with a shot on goal that he knelt down and banged his head on the pitch not just once, but time after time after time. 

I also noticed how the attackers and midfield players always seemed to get all the glory, and always seemed to be the stars of football novels. So I thought I’d try to redress the balance a little.

The other thing that found a place in the story was what radio commentators like to call ‘The magic of the FA Cup.’ Around the time I was writing the book I went to see Lowestoft Town play in the First Round of the Cup. It poured with rain and four players were sent off – and it was kind of magical, even though Lowestoft lost.

Defenders was serialised on BBC7, but I think I must be one of the only people who heard it!