Coach Steve is back in print!

Share this article

MAN v FAT Bournemouth coach Steve Couch is a busy man.

Not only does he guide his MAN v FAT players on their weight loss efforts – 236kg lost by the club last season alone – he also goes into local primary schools to coach children for Foundation Sports AND is a published author!

Following the successes of his first book Dead Man Singing, Steve is back with his second novel, Foul and Fair.

He’ll be in attendance at this year’s MAN v FAT National Tournament to sell his book and talk about his experiences in writing – and so we caught up with him to find out more before we get together on July 13th.

Tell us a bit about your second book and how you came up with the idea?
Foul and Fair is a thriller set in the world of kids’ grassroots football: an under 12s coach gets into a feud with another manager, and the rivalry escalates into a succession of dirty tricks – Roy of the Rovers meets House of Cards was the vibe I was going for.

I managed a kids’ team for seven years, and as well as seeing plenty of volunteers who were giving up hours and hours of time for the sake of the kids, I also saw too many coaches who wanted to make it all about themselves, acting as if it was the Premier League.

The book is about when those two perspectives collide, about finding the line between doing the right thing and getting the right result. Although it’s about kids’ football, it’s not a children’s book – it’s written for adults (it’s a bit sweary at times).

Was it harder or easier to write this book than the first one?
In one sense, much harder; it certainly took longer. I actually wrote this one before Dead Man Singing, but I knew that I hadn’t got it right yet. While Dead Man Singing was in the process of being published, I was reworking Foul and Fair.

Identifying what was wrong with the original version was relatively straightforward; working out how to put it right took a lot longer. I had a few false starts and dead ends, but once I hit upon adding a second character, Hayley, to share the focus of the book with James the football coach, everything started to fall into place.

She’s a single mum and a police officer, and the way her story gradually intertwines with James’ makes all the difference. I’m really pleased with where I’ve ended up with this one, even if it was a lot of work to get there.

The story is about an U12s coach, but how much of the storyline is drawn from your experiences at MAN v FAT Bournemouth?
Not much, to be honest! The original version of the story was written before I started with MAN v FAT, although the Hayley revisions came since. The club has left a couple of marks on the book though.

One of our players is a police officer, and he was a huge help for me in making Hayley’s work experiences ring true. There’s also a minor character in the book who is named after another of our players. For a variety of reasons, I just couldn’t find the right name for that character, and I suddenly realised that it was right there on the club website all along.

I asked him if he minded me using it and, happily, he agreed. If any of the lads from Bournemouth want to know which of their peers has made it into print, they’ll just have to buy the book and read it – I think they’ll recognise him in the character too, although it wasn’t initially based on him.

Although there’s nothing in Foul and Fair to do with weight-loss, there’s plenty in there about the value of football for wellbeing, particularly for children. There’s also plenty of football action that will appeal to anyone who loves the game; anyone with memories of kids’ football, either as a player themselves, as a coach, or as a parent, will find much in the book that resonates with their experience.

I suspect that the vast majority of MAN v FAT players fall into at least one of those categories, so I’m hoping that lots of people in our community will really enjoy the book.

What has the initial feedback been to the book?
It’s very early days yet, but so far so good! Review copies are still being sent out, but I managed to get advanced copies of the book to a couple of people in the football world: Martin Dighton, formerly with Dorset FA and now Senior Coach Developer at Coaching UK, and Richard Dobson, who was Gareth Ainsworth’s assistant manager at QPR and Wycombe.

They’ve both given glowing endorsements, praising the book for authentically capturing the world of grassroots football, for the overall message about putting kids first, and for being a great, fun read.

You can see their quotes in full at

Dead Man Singing got some fantastic reader reviews once it was out in the world, so I’m hoping that Foul and Fair will follow in its footsteps.

You’re coming to the national tournament – how much are you looking forward to meeting more of the community? And how much will the book cost them to buy?
I’m really looking forward to it. As well as selling books, I’m hoping I’ll be able to watch some of the football and to chat with MAN v FAT players from across the country. I’ve been involved with MAN v FAT for two and a half years now and I love the warmth and the sense of support that everyone has for one another.

It’s genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with and I’m very proud to have a small part in something that changes so many lives for the better.

The books retail at £9.99 each, and I’ll be doing a special offer for the tournament: if someone buys Foul and Fair and Dead Man Singing together, I can do the pair at £16. But whether someone wants to buy books or not, I’d love for people to come and find my bookstall and have a chat.

Please do seek out Steve at the tournament, we’re sure he’d be glad to chat to you!


We think you’ll like these articles too.

Plexal support the MAN v FAT Awards

Plexal, the innovation company delivering startup programmes across the UK and providing state-of-the-art workspaces, leant its support to a leading male wellbeing awards event at the National Football Museum in

Read More »

Start your fight against fat with man v fat football