Pete Graves 'Here To Compete'
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Pete Graves: ‘Here To Compete’

“It offers the opportunity to revel in the glorious history and the renewed hope of our beloved football club,” says Sky Sports presenter Pete Graves as he chats to Nicole Wood about his new book ‘Here to Compete’…

In the heart of football’s vibrant culture, the world of sport often transcends boundaries, creating a bond that unites fans and players in an unbreakable alliance.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in the passionate city of Newcastle, a city where football is not just a game but a way of life. And it’s here that one of the most recognisable voices in British sports journalism, Pete Graves, found his inspiration to pen his latest masterpiece, ‘Here to Compete’.

This book is not just about a club; it’s a story of passion, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of the Geordie faithful.

Pete Graves, known for his role at Sky Sports and his enduring love for Newcastle United, had a vision about four years ago that led to the creation of his footy-inspired masterpiece.

As someone who had been attending games from such a young age, it was disheartening to see how many fans were giving up on the club.

“I’ve always been obsessed with Newcastle United, it’s a huge part of my life. I was sort of feeling down in the dumps about the club, I knew how much potential it had and it just wasn’t getting taken advantage of, so I wanted to do something positive for the club and for the fans,” Pete begins to explain.

Pete Graves ‘Here To Compete’ Inspiration

Pete Graves 'Here to Compete"

His inspiration came from the remarkable journeys of two of the greatest managers in Newcastle United’s history, Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson.

Both men had taken charge of the team in its darkest hours and orchestrated remarkable transformations. Keegan, who arrived when the club was languishing in the depths of the second division, led them to the pinnacle of English football.

Robson, on the other hand, revitalised the Premier League’s lowest – ranked team, taking them to the Champions League.

Graves began writing about these two iconic figures, their methods, and their impact.

He recalls: “I’d written about four chapters at this point and then actually stopped. I hit a bit of a brick wall and I thought I don’t know what I’m writing anymore, is this going to be long enough to be a book.”

But fate had other plans, and when the takeover happened, hope began to bloom once again in the hearts of Newcastle fans. Eddie Howe, the current Newcastle United manager, started achieving results reminiscent of Keegan and Robson’s reigns.

This resurrection of the club’s fortunes under Howe became the catalyst for Graves to revisit his writing.

Pete recalls: “When the takeover first happened I thought ‘Oh well I’ll never finish now, positivity is back, it’s not needed anymore’ but then Eddie Howe came in and basically started doing the exact same thing that Bobby and Kevin had done.

“He took us from the bottom of the Premier League to 11 in his first season and the following year, we finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League. So, I decided to write about it and put it with the other stuff I had written.

“It then became a book about the three of them, the best managers that Newcastle United have had.”

The Research Behind

Pete Graves 'Here to Compete'

To bring his story to life, Pete conducted interviews with the men who knew the tale best. He reached out to Kevin Keegan, a beloved figure in the history of the club. Graves sought insights into the Bobby Robson era from none other than the iconic Alan Shearer, whose career reignited under Robson’s guidance.

Eddie Howe, the modern saviour of the Magpies, also shared his journey. These interviews enriched the narrative, offering a perspective that only the protagonists themselves could provide.

“The book has snippets of my life, going to the matches when I was a kid, the highs and lows of being a supporter, but it’s essentially about the managers and what those three men did for our football club to make the fans believe in it again.

Newcastle seems to have this funny habit where when times are low and things are going really bad, fans are close to giving up, someone comes along and turns it all around. It happened with Kevin Keegan, with Bobby Robson and now again with Eddie Howe. And that’s what his book is all about,” he explains.

Researching the book was a labour of love for Graves. His deep-seated passion for the game meant he had the statistics and facts at his fingertips, especially regarding the Keegan and Robson eras.

Eddie Howe’s time at Bournemouth, though, was a revelation for Graves. It made him appreciate Howe’s qualities and understand how perfect a match he was for Newcastle United.

Pete Graves ‘Here To Compete’ – The Managers

“There was a lot of research and fact checking involved, but whenever I’m working on Newcastle United, I always say it’s the easiest job in the world for me. I am crazy about football and have random stats in my brain that I can pull out from nowhere.

“If I’m not working at the game, I’ll either be in the ground watching, following closely on TV or radio or reading match reports afterwards. So, in terms of research it all came quite easy.

“The Kevin Keegan stuff was easy and the Bobby Robson stuff was easy. I’d say the hardest part was Eddie Howe at Bournemouth. He’s not even been at Newcastle for two years, so I had to know more about him and doing that research was such an enjoyable part of the experience.

“I totally and completely underestimated how brilliant of a job he did at Bournemouth, he lifted them from nothing and took them to the Premier League and I feel like it all happened under the radar.

“What he did at that club was amazing. It made me respect him so much more and really resonated in me how perfect he is for the job. Newcastle United and Eddie Howe really are the perfect marriage.

“There’s a lot of Bobby and Kevin in Eddie Howe; he’s respectful, a great listener, he makes the players better. A good manager strengthens the team he has.

“Some managers just spend millions and continue to replace players who haven’t been performing the best, whereas with Eddie Howe there’s about five or six players who literally looked like they’d never played football before and he’s arrived and all of a sudden they look like absolute world-class players. It’s incredible the job he’s done,” says Pete.

The Pursuit Of The Perfect Word

Pete Graves

“I’ve known Kevin and Alan for a long time. There was one night driving back from the Isle of White to London where I was in the car with Kevin and his wife and we just spoke about football the whole six hours and well, that was the interview done.

“And it was the same with Alan, I’ve known him for years and I’ve always admired him. He was my absolute favourite player when I was a young man growing up, he’s a lovely bloke and he was great to chat to, he was definitely the right person to speak to about Bobby. It was a pleasure to speak with all three of them,” Pete adds.

Writing a book, as Pete discovered, is far from easy. It demands dedication, long nights, and the pursuit of the perfect word.

“It was a lot of hard work. Much harder than I originally thought it was going to be. As a writer, you’ll know this, but sometimes you think you’ve written loads and I would spend the night bashing away on the keyboard thinking I’ve done really well and and when I’d look, there would only be around 600 words and in the back of my mind I knew that most books were around 70,000.

“So yeah, it was difficult and a lot of late nights but we got there in the end and I’m really happy with it. I found by writing the book that other things in my life became easier.

“In the afternoon, I would spend time thinking about language, diction and forming sentences, everything that would make presenting news easier. I’d say writing the book has made me a better presenter,” Pete smiles.

Pete Graves ‘Here To Compete’ – A Legendary Legacy

Pete Graves ‘Here to Compete’ is a must-read for football fans, especially those who bleed black and white. It’s a tale of triumph over adversity, of managers who defied the odds, and a testament to the enduring spirit of the Newcastle fans.

And if you’re in search of the perfect Christmas gift this year, then you know exactly what to buy the NUFC lover in your life. ‘Here To Compete’ is not just a book; it’s a love letter to Newcastle United, a club that has the power to rise from its darkest hours and shine again, thanks to the visionaries who guide it.

‘Here to Compete’ is out now and is available to buy from Amazon and all major bookstores.