Adrian Deans, author of Mr. Cleansheets, and Neil Humphreys the author of Match Fixer, have turned the tables on each other and voiced their views on the other's equally entertaining read. This is what they made of each other's efforts...

Match Fixer Review By Adrian Deans

You need to know from the very start that this is not a story about football. Certainly there are footballers involved, but this is a story about the corrupt underside of the flashy professional game - even if it's only the S-League. It's also about Neil Humphreys' love of Singapore.

We follow the fortunes of young Chris Osborne who, at the start of the story seems like he is going to fulfil his father's dream of playing for their beloved Hammers, but Chris doesn't quite make the grade in London and, after a brief, unhappy stint at Melbourne Victory, winds up plying his trade in Singapore where the game exists almost solely as a medium for betting. Everything (so they say) is kelong - fixed. But rather than wanting to do something about cleaning up the game, the main purpose of the characters in the book, from the powerbrokers at the top to the street vendors at the very bottom, is to get the inside information on how each game is going to be fixed in order to profit.

Or so it would seem. There are a handful of people trying to look after Singapore's image as a clean and corruption-free country, but the stakes are so high and the exotic temptations of Asia so strong that no-one can ever be sure who is on which side.

Young Chris strikes form and seems to have found a home. Less than a journeyman in England and rejected before he starts in Australia, he quickly establishes a reputation as the best player in the history of the S-League and a range of opportunities open up for him, including the possibility of becoming a major player in Singaporean society or returning to England with enough of an enhanced reputation to resume his career at a respectable level.

Everyone suddenly wants a piece of Chris and that's when the match fixers close in. Chris is too good not to figure in the outcome of any game - therefore, he must be brought within their fold. Lost in the impenetrably murky world of Asian politics, big business and organised crime, Chris must somehow balance the temptations and the threats and find his own path.

Good luck buddy.

Humphreys clearly knows Singapore. He has a deep affection for its ambience and its people and a great ear for Singaporean dialogue. Some of the "Singlish" conversations between the gangsters are funny without even trying to be: Chris Osborne asked to fix match lah, can or not?

This may not quite be the football story you were expecting, but once you allow yourself, like Chris, to be seduced into the strange jungle of Asian football with its corruption and pathological gambling culture, you will be rewarded with a very different and memorable reading experience.

Mr. Cleansheets Review By Neil Humphreys

Growing up in England, there was one football novel that every kid read.

The legendary Brian Glanville, when he wasn't knocking out scintillating, unrivalled prose on the old English First Division, also took the time to write the definitive history of the World Cup or the odd football novel.

His greatest work, Goalkeepers Are Different, about a fictional goalkeeper playing for a First Division team in the 1960s against the likes of George Best and Jimmy Greaves, is a veritable classic.

Every kid who kicks a ball around in England has read it. Every kid who is ever going to kick a ball around should read it.

Mr. Cleansheets, written by Sydney-based author Adrian Deans, is Goalkeepers Are Different for grown-ups.

Mr. Cleansheets follows the fortunes of Eric Judd, a goalkeeper playing amateur football in Sydney, who takes up Manchester United's offer of a trial... six days before his 40th birthday.

Judd ends up in London where he encounters so many "gor blimey, guv'nor" Cockney villains, Irish crime lords, football hooligan factions, underground fascist organisations and double-crossing secret agents that Mr. Cleansheets makes Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels look like a National Geographic documentary on life in London.

Judd's journey is one of aspiration initially, and appears to be following the path of Glanville's classic before it takes a dash of social realism from The Football Factory, throws in a splash of The Damned United's dialogue and adds the authentic dressing room banter of The Glory Game.

I mention those four books - Goalkeepers Are Different, John King's The Football Factory, David Peace's The Damned United and Hunter Davies' The Glory Game - because they are the finest works in their football genres.

They have been imitated endlessly, but rarely bettered. Mr. Cleansheets' admirable efforts to incorporate elements of all four books show tremendous ambition.

And Deans really shines when Mr. Cleansheets falls somewhere between Goalkeepers Are Different and The Glory Game - describing the quirks and foibles of the players themselves and detailing the unique nuances of their environment.

When Judd describes his penalty-saving techniques, the verisimilitude leaps off the page, dives up into the top corner and tips it round the post. (Being a former junior goalkeeper in East London myself, I found these passages riveting. My tired technique involved leaving a slightly bigger gap to my left, edging towards my right before diving to my left. I saved two penalties - one when I was 13, the other when I was 34, so you're better off with Mr. Cleansheets' strategy).

And there is a most enjoyable thread of nostalgia running through Mr Cleansheets. Judd's description of the FA Cup and its significance brought back warm memories of balmy afternoons in May watching Wembley showpieces that actually mattered.

In Mr Cleansheets, the oldest knockout tournament in the world is given its due deference. Deans' FA Cup is the FA Cup of my childhood, of Trevor Brooking's header against Arsenal, of Dave Beasant saving a Liverpool penalty, of Craig Johnston winning the double for Liverpool.

It's the FA Cup we dreamt of lifting in our backyards, before the Champions League turned the proud tournament into a training exercise for the Big Four's reserves.

Deans deserves great credit for writing a football novel that finally does the most romantic cup competition in the world justice.

Mr. Cleansheets is an entertaining bedside companion, the perfect partner before drifting off with fuzzy images of giant-killing FA Cup runs.

That's what dreams are made of.