Political thriller uses Millwall football club as its backdrop


Time of Lies by Douglas Board imagines if a Millwall ‘hooligan’ became Prime Minister Pic: Douglas Board

Imagine if a Millwall football hooligan led the country? Well this becomes reality in a dystopian account of what the UK’s politics could be, with the clubs stadium at its heart…

Author Douglas Board, who lives in Bermondsey, has written the novel Time of Lies, to be released 23 June, in response to 21st-century politics and the class system.

Board was born in Hong Kong, he came to the UK when he was 16, then studied at Cambridge and Harvard. This is his second book; his first, MBA – Managed By Arseholes – was a response to political leadership.

Time of Lies follows fictional character Bob Grant, dubbed a football hooligan and big time Millwall fan, who becomes prime minister, even staging his main political rally at the clubs stadium in Lewisham.

Board told EastLondonlines about his upcoming release. He said: “Millwall is right on my doorstep. Even their chant ‘no-one likes us we don’t care’ is a symbol that we think we know how people are.”

The chant becomes the unofficial national anthem throughout the book. Board explained why he chose to feature the football club so prominently.

He said: “We think we know how football fans are, particularly Millwall; violent and unruly. But we don’t; Millwall was actually voted the most family friendly club in April and everyone, even my friends were so shocked because they assume it’s the opposite.”

In the book, Zach, Bob’s well-informed brother, cannot believe his siblings rise to power. Board said: The two brothers are born in earshot of Millwall and they go on a journey trying to understand each other. Maybe Zach doesn’t know Bob at all, and that’s kind of like Millwall and my friends. It’s being bothered to learn and understand.”

He told how important it was to raise awareness of the class system and how south-east London is still affected by this.

“Even life expectancy, in Bank it’s aged 87 but for the south-east, Lewisham and Croydon it’s 10-15 years less, a huge division.

“Class is one of the biggest themes in the book. The idea of the ruling, rules the class, it’s mutual contempt. The Millwall national chant resonated this; so many people are used to having leaders but not leading.

“I needed a Bob Grant, he represents this. He didn’t finish school and if you aren’t educated you aren’t seen as smart, which is not true. Even the main political rally is held at Millwall stadium.”

He continued to speak of the current political climate and how, despite being written before the UK referendum, it has clear reflections of it.

“I started writing the book before Brexit, just before it happened I thought it would narrowly go the other way and we would stay in the EU. It’s such a division it just shows how we can no longer agree on fundamentals.

“The UK is not great right now, but if bad choices are made then it could end up in a really terrible place.”

Board spoke of how he believed experts were key helping the public to understand complex issues. He said: “People don’t feel understood, who needs an expert? Of course we need experts, Bob Grant can’t run the country. His slogan ‘Britain’s great. End of,’ is that teenage end of thinking attitude.”

Dedicated to murdered politician Jo Cox, Board spoke of the impact of this crime during the tail end of writing.

“I dedicated the book to Jo Cox, the weekend of her death [last June] I had nearly finished the book. I was so shocked because I wasn’t sure if I could write. I did, I turned my own anger into something, people need to acknowledge their own fear.”

Board said south-east London was an obvious choice for his novel’s setting. “I live in south-east London, I met my wife here. It’s so mixed; it’s great. I have met so many different types of people and without them I really couldn’t have written the book.”





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