Top positive review
"Ride the snake like a soccer shaman"
on 1 December 2015
“Articles of Faith” is a book by Russell Brand about football. Don’t be getting it though if you want a companion to his Booky Wook books or his DVD shows unless you like football.
Basically the book is a “collection of columns” that Brand wrote for the Guardian newspaper during the 2007-08 season. There is a smidgeon of added value with some extras that you wouldn’t have originally got with your newspaper, these mainly being the cover “in which I am inadvisedly posing as Christ”, and three interviews with famous football fans – a humorous discussion of the football songs “Three Lions” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” with David Baddiel, a rushed interview with James Corden about West Ham, and a chat about Manchester City becoming the richest club in the world with Noel Gallagher.
The “rattishly indulged” articles “focus chiefly on Brand’s reaction to the phenomena of football culture” rather than focusing on the football itself, and are done in the Russell Brand style with plenty of poetic and fruity language, lots of analogies, e.g. “like a knicker thief suddenly made manager of a laundrette”, and many a “wacky, sideways” view, e.g. “I enjoyed his scissor-kick somersault celebration although I’d be the first to condemn him if he did it in a refuge for battered women.”
The presentation is lavish with colour illustrations relating to the text throughout, such as one of “former Blades boss Neil Warnock poised in a circle of stone, stinking of chicken’s blood, spewing white-eyed incantations and clutching a buckled dolly of West Ham player Julien Faubert”, but never actual photos of any of the football or footballers, the only photos being promo shots of Brand, pencil in hand (for example).
As for the football this was the season when Steve McClaren’s England “smashed to bits” the “beautiful distraction of Euro 2008”, and where “poor unlovable Avram’s” Chelsea and Manchester United contested the Champions League final. As there is no context presented between articles a basic knowledge of what went on in the football world at this time, as well as the characters, is advisable.
Overall then what you have here is a funny, episodic read about the 2007-08 English football season, with a slight West Ham bias (Brand being a West Ham supporter). His last words are “Football does not make sense” so ultimately this book probably doesn’t make sense, but I thought it was a good read anyway.