With the EFL and Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign set to kick off on Saturday, we are happy to be promoting a new novel that tells the story of a gay footballer that struggles with his sexuality whilst playing for a top English club.
Written by David Kerby-Kendall, Sammy Hatchington’s life is the envy of many. Having escaped a deprived estate and an abusive father, he’s now one of England’s leading footballers. Underneath, though, Sammy is still the book-loving teenager, happiest with his head in a novel or spending time with the friends who saved him from what he could have become. But the dream that became a reality may soon be over, as Sammy must make a decision that could destroy everything he has fought for, creating a furious media frenzy in the process.
The Rainbow Player is a witty and engaging novel about a footballer who, after several girlfriends, falls in love with a man and subsequently has to hide his new-found sexuality from the fans and the media. Author, David Kerby-Kendall, delivers a pertinent, pithy and vivid narrative in which his affable protagonist reflects on his teenage years and rise to sporting fame. Sammy charts his successes, his abject failures and the burgeoning sexuality within him, always with his signature smiling optimism.
The Rainbow Player is a coming-of-age novel dealing with all aspects of Sammy’s life (and has, in initial reviews, received high praise from sports and non-sports fans alike). However, it also shines a spotlight on the issues surrounding homosexuality in football. With no openly gay professional footballers in the UK (and only two in the world), Kerby-Kendall hopes to encourage dialogue, bravery and tolerance amongst the fans and general public. As David said in an interview for BBC Radio’s Sportshour, “It’s always the 5% at either end of the extremes of society who shout the loudest. If the fair-minded 90% of us in the middle spoke up for once, we’d have a far more tolerant world”. The Rainbow Player is a funny, moving story about the human being behind the icon and it challenges deep-rooted preconceptions about professional footballers and sexuality in sport.
Explaining why he wrote the novel, author David Kerby-Kendall said, "the main reason that I’ve written The Rainbow Player is to help create a situation where gay players can be open about their sexuality. I was interviewed on BBC radio recently with Anton Hysen. He said that, when he announced that he was gay seven years ago, he expected a lot of gay players to follow; but, of course, that didn’t happen.
We tend to forget that footballers have real lives behind the heroic photos on the sports pages, so I’ve written a story about the human being behind the icon that will hopefully make you laugh a lot and cry a little. I would like The Rainbow Player to be enjoyed by everyone who reads it but, ultimately, to show that it isn’t the gender of the person you love that matters, it is who you love.
You can find out more information about the novel here.
The Rainbow Player is available in all good bookshops and from several online retailers, including here.