The year: 2023. After Earth is decimated by pestilence and war, mankind attempts to colonise a distant planet. Here, Kevin Keegan sets up his new football academy...
The near future. Earth has been invaded by an aggressive, imperialistic alien race known as the L’zuhl, who have laid waste to the galaxy for centuries. Those humans lucky enough to have survived have been evacuated to the most distant reaches of space to rebuild and fight back against the L’zuhl onslaught. On the distant planet of Palangonia, in a large walled compound that houses the new human colony, there lives the former Newcastle United and England manager Kevin Keegan, the manager of Palangonia FC. As the war rages, Keegan just wants to focus on the most important things – picking up three points on Saturday – but constantly finds himself sucked into the battle against the L’zuhl, whether he likes it or not. And now, with whispers of a L’zuhl spy on the loose in the compound, it falls to Keegan himself to find the culprit before it’s too late...
Galactic Keegan: The Novel
Galactic Keegan (@GalacticKeegan) began in early 2014 as an attempt to finally answer the age-old question, “What would happen if the world ended and the beloved former Newcastle United, Fulham, Manchester City and England manager Kevin Keegan began coaching a football team in deep-space sometime in the near future?” Since then the tale has expanded to become a chronicle of the bitter galactic war between the Alliance and the evil L’zuhl as they attempt to lay waste to the cosmos, with an expanding cast of characters sharing the vast human compound on the distant planet of Palangonia, all either helping or hindering Keegan’s attempts to mount a challenge for the title in Galactic League C.
The idea for the Twitter account came to me during a slow afternoon at work, when I began to reminisce about Kevin Keegan’s brilliant “Entertainers” at Newcastle in the Nineties and I wondered where the man himself was these days. “He could be in outer space nowadays for all I know,” I thought… and a seed was planted.
I decided right from the off that I wanted the humour to be gentle and warm-natured, without featuring swearing or mean-spiritedness, perhaps because my mental image of Keegan was of a kind, decent man who would frown upon such things and would want to live his life in the best and purest way possible. I also wanted the account to feature more than just gags or observations about football, I wanted to tell an ongoing story with stakes, cliffhangers and characters people might even grow to care about – all assuming that it developed any kind of following at all. Thankfully, somehow, it did and to this day nothing cheers me up more than to hear from people who have become immersed in the fate of Keegan, his loyal No 2 Gerry Francis, his robot coach Barrington12, Gillian the academy chair, Laika the first dog in space turned respected political leader, General Leigh the antagonistic compound leader and the Great Betrayer himself, Richard Madeley, who defected to the L’zuhl immediately following their invasion of Earth.
It may sound silly, but I’ve felt a real responsibility toward those who have invested their time in Keegan’s adventures, some of whom have been following the account for many years, and have always wanted to do the story justice. To have an opportunity to expand the story beyond the realms of Twitter and into an actual novel would be, without question, a dream come true for me.
But I’ll need your help to make this a reality
And so, if you’re a long-time follower of the account then I can promise this parody will contain everything you know and enjoy about the Twitter version, the only difference being that the book will have sentences longer than 240 characters. There may be one or two familiar elements but this is not just a re-print of existing tweets – it’s a whole new story in the form of a full novel. If, on the other hand, you’ve never even heard of Galactic Keegan before and think “I’m not even a football fan, is this really for me? Is this writer on drugs?” then the answers to those two questions are as follows:
- If you enjoy science-fiction, comedy and entertaining stories filled with twists and turns, drama and excitement, pathos and humour, then yes: this book is absolutely for you. As has always been the case with the Twitter version, I really want Galactic Keegan’s story to be accessible to anyone, whether they’re into football or not.
But hey, don’t just take my word for it – here’s what Galactic Keegan himself has to say:
“For me, this story could outshine all the greats from throughout literary history – eclipsing the likes of War & Peace, David Copperfield, Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby and Steven Gerrard: My Story. For people to be able to read about what really goes on out here in the arse-end of space would make all of the struggles and hardships worthwhile. Look, these Unbound people will probably want me to cheapen myself and say, ‘I will love it if you pledge towards this book – love it!’ but I’m not going to give them the satisfaction, frankly. All I’ll say is, if you’re asking the question ‘Will this book be the greatest sci-fi comedy adventure story about a manager trying to run a football club against a backdrop of a civilisation torn asunder by the ravages of a brutal intergalactic war?’ then listen: that’s for others to say. But yes.”
Final cover may vary from this design.
Get hold of one of these Galactic Keegan mugs with an illustration by the artist Michael Davidson plus a copy of the book! Offer ends end of December.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I forget who said that - possibly Bryan Robson. I’d ask him, but last I heard he was rounded up and forced to perform hard labour in the phlebonium mines on Gralka IV. He’ll be disappointed with that.
But either way, it’s true. You go through a great deal in your life and in my seven-or-so decades I’ve maybe seen more than most. Some things I’ll treasure - my Liverpool days, my time in Germany, taking over at Newcastle. But then there are the things I’d sooner forget - that header at World Cup ‘82, falling off that bloody bike on Superstars, giving Paul Ince my phone number (seriously, there are only so many times you can tolerate receiving a breathy phone call at three in the morning as Incey says, “Gaffer - it’s happened again”). And, of course, the lowest of the low. 1995-96.
Everyone likes to harp on about how my Newcastle lads threw away the league title that season, chucked a twelve-point lead in the bin and allowed Man United to pip us on the final day. But the thing that I’ve always said - and I absolutely stand by this today - is that if the league season had finished in January rather than May, we’d have won the title. And that’s what makes it such a bitter pill to swallow.
But whichever way you look at it, 1995-96 was a gut-punch. I really thought we were going to do it. We had Pete Beardsley and Les Ferdinand up top and Daz Peacock and Warren Barton at the back - and if you think you can name any other defensive pairing with more luxuriant hair than those two then, frankly, you’re lying. And yet it wasn’t enough. My one tiny consolation at that time was that I was convinced I’d never be able to feel any worse. I had hit rock bottom and Sir Al Ferguson was riding high. But the more things change the more they stay the same. Now it’s not Sir Al Ferguson that I’m up against.
It’s the bloody L’zuhl.
Adapting to life on a new planet is a lot like taking the reins at a new club - you don’t know your way around, you can’t remember anybody’s names and you worry constantly about being vaporised by an aggressive alien race. Well, maybe not that last one.
Life on Palangonia hasn’t been easy even a year down the line. When the L’zuhl invaded Earth and laid waste to everything mankind had built over however many thousands of years, I was already gone. Say what you like about politicians, but they had a plan and you have to give credit where it’s due. The Alliance Assembly (the big conference of galactic bigwigs) had been fighting the L’zuhlian war for generations while we on Earth were blissfully unaware - until the L’zuhl fleet was pretty much on our doorstep. The Assembly helped us to evacuate as much of Earth’s population to various distant planets as possible with the intention that we could regroup and then join them in the fight against the L’zuhl - we weren’t the first or the last planet to get that kind of treatment. Others sadly fell to the L’zuhl before the Alliance could step in. We were one of the lucky ones I guess. Depending on your point of view.
The human compound here on Palangonia is in many ways like a massive great prison - big thick stone walls, machine gun turrets, a heavy law enforcement presence. But at the same time it has a library, a cinema and three Costa Coffees. So I shouldn’t knock it too much. And aside from their occasional attacks on the compound gates with their spears and their bows and arrows, as well as their repeated claims that we’ve annexed their sacred land and defiled their heritage, the native Palangonian tribespeople have welcomed us with open arms.
But of course, the best thing about the compound is also the very reason I’m here. My football club. Palangonia FC. The beating heart of the community. Sure, it’s a small operation at the moment but listen, you’ve got to start somewhere. And yes, okay, there are some people who believe that funding a football team during a time of galactic war is an appalling frivolity - I won’t name names, that’s not my style, but General Leigh is one of them. The way I look at it is this: if not for the beautiful game - the unparalleled glory of a last-minute winner, the jaw-dropping splendour of an overhead kick, the agonising outstretched arm of the goalie keeping a well-struck penalty at bay - then what the bloody hell are we even fighting for? How can the displaced people of Earth (the ones who drew the short straw and ended up out here at the rotten arse-end of space, anyway) possibly hope to keep that stiff upper lip in place without the prospect of going to the match on a Saturday afternoon and watching my boys take on a side from a neighbouring nebula? That’s why Palangonia FC is here. That’s why Kevin Keegan is here. That’s why it matters.
It’s really all we have left.
Over halfway there!
Monday, 10 December 2018
Well, just under three weeks in and Galactic Keegan: The Novel is already over 50% of the way towards its funding target! My ambitious aim prior to the launch was to perhaps reach that stage by Christmas, so to be there already is fantastic progress - I'm absolutely delighted and it's really all thanks to you. I'm so grateful for all the pledges, retweets, shares and general goodwill…
These people are helping to fund Galactic Keegan: The Novel.