Martin hopes Newcastle United fans will love the second book in anticipated trilogy

Martin Hardy, author of Tunnel of Love.
Picture by Jane Coltman

Martin Hardy, author of Tunnel of Love. Picture by Jane Coltman

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A new book looking at the ups and downs of Newcastle United is set to hit the shelves following the success of an author’s debut book.

North east sports writer Martin Hardy spent a year working on Touching Distance, which looked at Newcastle United’s 1995/96 season as they just missed out on the Premier League title.

Following the success of the book released last year, Martin – from Whitley Bay – has now penned the second book of an anticipated triology looking at the Magpies’ recent history.

Tunnel of Love follows on, starting with the signing of Alan Shearer for a then world record fee in 1996, and looks at the club’s ups and downs until relegation in 2009.

Speaking to the News Guardian, Martin said: “The first book did phenominally well. The reception from people was lovely, some said they were in tears reading it.

“I was shortlisted for Best New Writer which was a nice way to round it off.

“Even before finishing Touching Distance, Tunnel of Love was something in my mind. There was still so much to come after the 1996 season, starting with the signing of Alan Shearer then the FA Cup Final in 1998 and the emotion of Newcastle fans, hence the title of the book and the reference to the Dire Straits song.

“I thought I would end this book in 2009 with the club’s relegation, and I’m hoping the third book will bring a happy ending.”

He added: “It’s a different kind of book. This covers the ups and downs. The Wembley trips, beating Manchester United 5-0, the European semi final in Marseille, the victory in Barcelona in the Champions League, the appointment of Bobby Robson.

“But is also covers Kevin Keegan leaving, the Kenny Dalglish spell, Ruud Guillit and his row with Shearer, Robson leaving, Dyer and Bowyer fighting on the pitch, the new owner coming in and ultimately the relegation.”

Once again, Martin spent time speaking to the key people involved including former chairman Freddy Shepherd, Shearer, and ex-managers Graeme Souness and Chris Hughton. He also received help from Newcastle United.

Martin said: “The club were absolutely excellent. They were so helpful letting me go through the library to find the right pictures that capture the highs and lows.”

He added: “This book took me nine months to complete. There has already been a lot of interest from fans which is great.”

Tunnel of Love, priced at £18.99, is available to pre-order from www.touchingdistance.com ahead of its release on October 15. Martin will be selling copies on the south end at Tynemouth Market on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm, with former Newcastle United winger Keith Gillespie joining him from 9am to 10am on Saturday.