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32 Programmes [Paperback]

Dave Roberts
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

24 May 2012

When Dave Roberts relocates to the USA, his wife informs him that they can only take what is 'absolutely essential'. Packing his collection of football programmes (1,134 of them - football fans are sticklers for statistics), Dave is aghast to be informed that the programmes do not fall into that category. He must whittle down his treasured archive to only what will fit inside a Tupperware container the size of a Dan Brown hardback.

32 Programmes tells the story of how Dave made the selection of his most important programmes, and how the process brought back a flood of nostalgia for simpler times. As the sights, sounds and smells of those 1,134 football matches return, the choices Dave makes reflect the twists and turns that life takes. Finally, with just hours to go before the flight, the container is full to the brim. One more programme will be added to the collection - one that Dave never thought he would see and which means more to him than any other.

32 Programmes is the story of youthful football obsession, crushes on disinterested girls, rubbish jobs and trying to impress skinheads. But most of all, it is the story of a man's life and loves, of family, friends and football.

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32 Programmes + Got, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857500503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857500502
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dave Roberts has been one of those annoying bike couriers, a security guard, a Civil Servant, a KFC chef who was fired for trying to steal a sample of the secret recipe and a train driver - all before reaching 20. After that, he settled for a career in advertising, which never really hit any heights.
His first book, e-luv: an internet romance came out in 2006 and was followed by The Bromley Boys, which is now being made into a film, two years later. Next up was 32 Programmes in 2011, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. His fourth book, Sad Men came out in 2014.
His loves (aside from his family) include Bromley Football Club, the music of Saint Etienne, Eastenders and golden retrievers.
His favourite books are Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, The Adventures of Goodnight & Loving by Leslie Thomas, Rain Men by Marcus Berkmann and anything by Guy Burgess. More recently, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes and One Day by David Nicholls.
He currently lives in Connecticut, USA but hopes to come home to England someday.

Product Description


"A little gem... a brilliant way to reflect on his love affair with football" (Henry Winter Daily Telegraph)

"Very funny in wry, Nick Hornby-esque fashion... This memoir will gain a lot of fans" (Simon Redfern Independent on Sunday)

"Remarkable... A book that every woman should study, for the unique insight it offers into the impenetrable enigma of the male mind" (Jane Shilling Daily Mail)

"A brilliant idea nicely executed, it's certainly the funniest sport-related read this Christmas" (Christopher Maume Independent)

"A wistful evocation of the author's early life told through a vast accumulation of football programmes he was forced to cull" (Huw Richards Guardian)

Book Description

The hilarious and moving story of a man called Dave (a football fan) and his most precious possessions...

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 mirrors 8 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A wonderful book and one of the best football-related stories I have read in years.
And the main reason being that Dave's story is a mirror image of all football fans who have fuelled their obsession by working in unhappy crap jobs so they could stand on terraces up and down the country and support their favourite team through thin and thinner.
It's also a generational thing, as although I am a good 10 years younger than Dave, teenagers picking up the way-of-life curse of following their local team, will never experience standing alongside their fellow Bovril and cigarette smelling fans on crumbling concrete steps with weeds growing inbetween their toes.
They are more likely to be herded into the Lego-like cloned theatres of anti-atmopshere that are becoming the sterile homes of our football clubs in the present. At least now, they will have a good account of what they missed.
I too used to feverishly keep a big collection of programmes in protective plastic wallets as fanatically as any guarded trainspotter or stamp collector.
But I sold my soul a few years ago and flogged them to a local sports memorobilia shop to make more room for other stuff in my house. And, yes, just like Dave it was a sale linked to her who must be obeyed. I also thought it was a sign I was finally growing up as I reached my late thirties, but I was so wrong. I don't want to grow up and Dave, you have made me regret ever trying to foolishly pull off the pretence.
What have I done? I'll never get that collection back again, or at least have the consolation prize of just 32 Programmes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into a collector! 28 July 2011
By Mr. P. J. Cooper VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Being a collector of various things myself, including football programmes (though to a lesser extent than Mr. Roberts). I knew I would enjoy this book.
Starting with his first football match between Fulham and Man Utd in 1965, it documents key events in his life and you can't fail to be won over with his passion for the subject! It is interesting to see how football changes during the documented time. The final 2 chapters are a lovely end to the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Autobiographical footy nostalgia 2 July 2011
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you think 'normal life is sitting on your bed reading football programmes until three a.m.', then welcome to heaven. Using a programme collection to chart life's milestones is a brilliant idea to the footy mad amongst us.

Particularly in the early part of this book, the author splendidly weaves in anecdotes and the minutiae of a fan's life from 1964 to 2008. Even if you were a non-fan growing up in this period, you will have many laughs and cringe-making reminiscences; who else owned the fashion nightmare 'Budgie' jacket?

The premise began to fade as the story moved into the 1980's. The balance seemed to switch and there were more 'shots tipped over the bar by Crudgington' than autobiographical detail. I got the impression that I was reading match reports fom Mr Robert's 'Filofax'. This will still appeal to fans of Manchester United and Plymouth Argyle as the two most featured teams.

This was doubly frustrating as major events were taking place in the author's life which are condensed into mere passing paragraphs. However, Mr Roberts is not re-writing 'Fever Pitch'; he is an obsessive fan and this is about his obsession. A very enjoyable 'dip-in' read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for football nostalgia 29 Dec 2012
I was given this book as a Christmas present and it took me two days to read. It owes a lot to the Nick Hornby-era style of 'Fever Pitch', and whilst it is a shorter book than its famous predecessor it has the same depth and nostalgia.
The pitch (excuse the pun) is that Dave had to select 32 programmes to take with him when he emigrated to the States, leaving the rest of his collection of 1134 football programmes behind. He then describes each of matches in depth from which he has chosen his 32 programmes. The games stretch from 1964 until the present day; and his remarkable memory, allied to his meticulous notes, mean that you get a real sense of what it was like to be at each of the games. Some games are chosen for life-changing reasons (his first ever game, the first game that he attended with his wife), and others simply for quirks and oddities. The richness of football folklore in the Sixties and Seventies is addressed, and some insights that you will not find in the history books become apparent.
The nice thing about this book is that it enjoyable for fans of all teams. As Dave was a fan of Bromley, he did not follow one big team, and as a result a wide range of teams get a mention; including Leeds, Plymouth and Bury. There is something here for everybody. Despite a fanatical devotion to Bromley he appears to have been a genuine fan of all football.
There is a twist, and surprisingly football does not dominate all of his life, but you need to read up to programme 32 to find out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 25 April 2012
The wonderment of your first match, the joy of winning, the misery of loosing, the pain of long trips home on the back of defeat. No if's, no and's , no but's this is the best football book I have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame it wasn't 64 8 Aug 2012
Have rarely enjoyed a book so much. The concept of the programmes providing the chapters is a simple one and a very effective. It moves the narrative easily onwards towards its poignant and touching finale.

If I had a criticism, it's too short. The chapters sometimes race by - although this could have been my reading of them - and also only having 32 programmes as a framework meant it couldn't last as long as I would have liked without some padding. There is no padding.

As well as a well-told human story it's also a great evocation of a footballing era that is long gone, with some of the characters Dave Roberts sees back then now legendary. None more so than Denis Law...

Well worth anyone's time and money.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Dave Roberts has the ability to superbly express how life life was growing up in England in the late 60's and 70's. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Stevew
5.0 out of 5 stars The Highs & Lows That Football & Life Can Throw At You
Dave Roberts has come up with a beautifully simple idea for telling his life-story. The eponymous 32 Programmes each represent a chapter in the author's transition from... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Roger Risborough
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read
If you like football, this is well worth a read. I couldn't put it down - this could be me in the future.
Published 8 months ago by Blade56
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric memoir
Dave Roberts is something of an obsessive football programme collector. Here, he tells the story of his life through the personal highlights of his collection, reminiscing about... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sport Nut
5.0 out of 5 stars Every fan should read it
A.must read for every football fan it is nostalgic beyond belief takes you back in time amazingly well versed fantastic
Published 12 months ago by Martin Birkbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
This book is brilliant, I couldn't put it down. The tale of a man confronted with discarding the major part of his collection of football programmes. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Richard M. Seel
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read
I had some vouchers to spend after xmas, and after picking some items i wanted, i decided to have a look round to find other items i could like. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Simon Bayliss
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
A nice trip through the past for older football fans especially those who have bundles of musty old programs hidden away in drawers
Published 19 months ago by tracy ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read for any football fan
This book was bought for me as a surprise Christmas present, as my wife thought I might like it as I enjoy both football and programme collecting. Read more
Published 19 months ago by POD
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I thought it would be
I was recommended this book and was really looking forward to reading it. However, whilst it was an entertaining enough read, I'm afraid I found the writing style quite corny and... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Stewart Pen
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