What Andy Rivers give us in his superb debut,'I'm Rivelino', is a book for the true football supporter; the old school. Those of us that have spent most of their Saturdays standing on the terraces in the rain rather than squeezed into a plastic seat. Those of us that still refer to the four divisions in numbers and who still remember the days when managers wore tracksuits and every team had a fat midfielder.
Laced with ascerbic Geordie wit, Andy Rivers takes the reader through his life following his beloved Newcastle, from the tight-shorted days of the early eighties to the Sky dominated, money-laden spectacle we have today.
Matches are replayed - or to be more accurate - match days are relived. For it is in his descriptions of the banter, the lager, and the scams that Rivers truly excels. He takes us there, rooting for The Toon, staggering out of the ground to the nearest boozer, escaping from the opposition big lads. We're not only drawn into rooting for Newcastle, but for Rivers himself - one away day to Leeds is a particularly hilarious example.
But this is more than a book about football. It is a book about relationships. The relationship between the hierarchy of a club and the average supporter, the relationship between the supporter and the team, and most of all, the relationship between friends.
If Nick Hornby had been working class, perhaps he might have written this book. Thing is, Nick Hornby was never working class. He was a University bod from Surrey. His 'Fever Pitch', about his life as an Arsenal supporter, therefore, couldn't help harbouring . . . pretensions. I mean, Colin Firth played him in the film. Says it all, really.
'I'm Rivelino' has no such pretensions. It just tells it how it is.
A must read for every football supporter that's experienced the hope and the heartache of following their team for thirty years.