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Archive for the ‘Soccer books’ Category

I love reading about soccer. There are team histories, histories of the game (my personal favorite), statistical almanacs, encyclopedias, coaching guides, photo books and a gazillion, mostly ghostwritten, memoirs, not to mention scores of magazines and countless websites and blogs. While the majority of these reads probably originate in Britain – the printed ones, anyway – this is slowly changing.

Finding fiction about soccer, other than books intended for the juvenile audience, can be pretty tough. Soccer fiction by American authors is, so far as I’ve been able to discover, an empty field. So when it comes to funny soccer fiction books the only examples I know are from British authors. Here are some suggestions, three of which are fiction, if you are in the mood for a good laugh.

Let’s begin with the obvious. Although it is a memoir and not a work of fiction, it was written by one of the more successful English novelists of the past twenty years at the beginning of his career: Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch.

When it was published in 1992, football in England was just beginning to emerge from an all time low. Hooliganism, decrepit stadiums, stadium tragedies, a ban on English teams playing in Europe were all taking a toll on the game in England.

Fever Pitch played no small part in the rejuvenation of the English game to its present high, helping to take the game from the yobs and giving it to the lads. The book is equally funny, ridiculous and informative in its laying bare of the soul of an obsessive Arsenal fan. To be honest, the book is about much more than being obsessed with football. It’s also about being a depressive, scrappy underachiever, which sounds an awful lot like Arsenal from the early 1970s through the early 1990s. (more…)

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Today the Philly Soccer Page introduces a new feature, In the Book, a column reviewing books about soccer. To start things off, here are some essential books that every Philly soccer fan should have on their shelve.

Rangers, Rovers & Spindles bookRangers, Rovers & Spindles: Soccer, Immigration and Textiles in New England and New Jersey (2005) may sound like a dreary bit of academia.  It’s actually the only book-length examination of early American soccer history that I’m aware of and is filled with a great deal of very useful information. In the book, Roger Allaway (who was a copy editor at the Inquirer, the co-author of two previous books on American soccer history and one of the founders of the Society for American Soccer History) gives a thorough and very readable account of the development of the game in that cradle of American soccer, the West Hudson and southeastern New England. What is important about the book for the Philly soccer fan is the connection between the immigration of British textile workers and the development of league soccer where they settled. Much the same patterns that Allaway describes as happening in New England and New Jersey also occurred in and around Philadelphia in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Soccer in a Football World bookDavid Wangerin’s Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America’s Forgotten Game was originally published in England (2006) by the cool folks at When Staturday Comes and was recently republished by Temple University Press (2008). Though the author describes it as “a British book written by an American expatriate,” the book is good overview of the history of the game in America from its disconnected regional beginnings in the late 1800s through the various attempts at establishing professional leagues through much of the 1900s and ends with the impact of 2002 World Cup and MLS. Of particular interest to Philly soccer fans is a (more…)

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