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Jumpers for Goalposts: How Football Sold Its Soul [Kindle Edition]

Rob Smyth , Georgina Turner
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.99
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Book Description

On August 15th 1992, the Premier League kicked off for the very first time to the sound of money. That same season, a new kind of branded commercialism descended across the continent as the European Cup was re-launched as the Champions League. In 1994, the game's oldest trophy, the FA Cup, would become the last of English football's major competitions to fall to commercial sponsors. The early 1990s mark the moment at which the beautiful game, the sport of the common man, wound up on a market stall, complete with price tag. Of course the game needed to change - terraces had become ugly, dangerous places, blighted with racism and afflicted with the tragedies of Hillsborough and Heysel; on the mud-patches that passed for pitches, tackles were brutal, bone-crunching, and very much from behind. But rather than righting wrongs, pockets were lined as the legacy of football was cashed in. Rob Smyth and Georgina Turner explore the fan's-eye view of 21st-century football, a game that can be about breathtaking style, but very little substance; a grossly inflated memory of its former self where Football's Soul (TM) is an idea to be traded, not treasured. These days, at least as much energy is spent figuring out how to exploit money-spinning opportunities as holes in the opposition back four, with long-suffering supporters brazenly commodified along the way. Yet in the game of the people, for the people, 'Jumpers for Goalposts' proves that the fans do know best and that to recover its soul, the beautiful game has to rediscover its roots.

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Product Description


...his book combines an encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket matches, anecdotes and facts with delicious turns of phrase. --Guardian

Smyth's love of the game shines out from every page. --Irish Times

A warming read, littered with the wit and knowledge that make Smyth such a magnetic writer.

About the Author

Rob Smyth is an experienced sports journalist who writes for The Guardian, Wisden Cricketer, The Economist and many other newspapers and magazines. His first book, The Spirit of Cricket 9781904027843, was published by E&T in 2010; this is his second. Georgina Turner is an experienced football journalist who writes for Sports Illustrated, The Observer, The Guardian and When Saturday Comes, among others. She teaches media and communication studies and has absolutely no left foot.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and funny 5 Jan. 2012
By Sam W
The market is saturated with football books, usually of the stocking filler variety - either god-awful laddish affairs, unjustified memoirs or beyond boring pub trivia-type drivel. Bravo for this one, then, which instead provides a very thought provoking and intelligent dissection of the state of modern football. As a fan these days I find myself getting bored reading the media football pages and having read JFG I thank the authors for pointing out why.

Starting with a guilty dream team, JFG quotes Danny Blanchflower, who states that football is not so much about winning but is about glory. And so by attempting to define the soul of football, and what makes it great, the book then sets about illustrating how all this has come undone in recent years, most notably since the inception of the Premier League in 1992.

The reasons themselves are familiar to most football fans: narcissistic players, the winning at all costs mentality, the monopolisation of domestic and European competition by the elite few, the stinking governing bodies, the hypocrisy of fans and the damned media. Where this book differs, and how it ultimately works, is that it is academic in its research, yet the witty journalistic style is very readable, and you don't have to be an "in the know" football nerd to appreciate it. There were plenty of bits that had me nodding in agreement: "where the money is stacked highest an antagonistic sense of entitlement has crystallized and fans strop about like Veruca Salt". Being a fan of the nouveau-riche Leicester City, I can attest to that! A section about fans in the media (commenting on online news stories etc) is also particularly good.

I would recommend buying this book - the fact that it is so contemporary, written in the early part of the 2011/12 season makes it worth doing now but I think the themes will make it relevant for a good many years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good number-crunching but nothing new 2 Jan. 2013
The book is well-written and its points are well-supported by statistical analysis. I doubt many fans would have much to disagree with in their conclusions, but it does feel like it's preaching to the converted. I would have liked to have seen more than a dozen pages dedicated to potential improvements the game can make. A good read though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 7 Jun. 2012
By Flash
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I started reading this I thought it might turn out to be a sort of "Grumpy Old Men on Football" style book, reminiscing about how things were better "...when I were a lad...".

I was wrong, not completely, but this is not a Clarkson-esque tirade against modern football. It is a very well thought out and reasoned discussion on how the game has been robbed of that magic that turned us all onto the game in the first place. Also quite clearly stating that this focus on money is not a new thing ! I won't spoil any of the book as I found it very entertaining and don't want to spoil it for anyone else.

The only thing missing was a section at the beginning "Dear FIFA..." and a space at the end where we can add our signatures before sending the book out to Mr Blatter and his colleagues !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Points Made 19 Nov. 2014
By atticusfinch1048 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Jumpers for Goalposts – Some Interesting Points

I always smile when I read books that complain that football has changed for the worse that it is not like the old days. In the old days we had ramshakle stadia, crap food, violence on and off the pitch, deaths and people turning away from football. You could rock up to a ground pay at the gate and gain entry some of those even turned up at Old Trafford but then they always had the glory hunting tourist fans well worth punching on derby day. I understand a few headbutted a few City fans fists at that time while the Mancunian reds watched and applauded. Believe me there was nothing fantastic about supporting your team at time back then at times, things have moved on times have changed. Whether for the better or the worst Jumpers for Goalposts examines the rise of ‘modern’ football, or as most Manchester United fans would say the beginning of history in 1992.

Jumpers for Goalposts written by sports journalists Georgina Turner and Rob Smyth (to me a tourist from Kent who supports the RAGs of Old Trafford), before I start Old Trafford was only ever made for cricket. They examine whether football has sold its soul which with the influx of money today is an important question for all fans even those of debt ridden clubs. There are some mistakes in here but that is expected as they are journalists after all, “We all live in a Robbie Fowler house” started at Manchester City when he signed for them and was continued by Liverpool, I know pedant alert.

The chapters are well constructed that cover the money that has come in to football and where it is being spent now and there are some very interesting comparrisons when the authors talk about football players, and therefore False Idols is the most apt chapter title for them.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Partly very enjoyable, partly frustrating 21 April 2013
By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
On the one hand, I really enjoyed a lot of this book; the argument that football has sold its soul is persuasive, and the evidence of ticket prices, kit changes, wages, transfer fees, TV rights, treatment of supporters etc is compelling. I share the authors' yearning for a simpler, more honest approach to the game that foregrounds entertainment, style and a strong sense of shared identity between players, managers and supporters. The recollections of bygone decades is very entertaining, and resonates strongly with my childhood memories of the FA Cup, Italia '90 and such like. On the other hand, the authors' central theme is somewhat repetitive, and they present very little hope of redemption. The focus is, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the Premier League and international football, but surely there are signs of hope and examples that go against the grain in the lower leagues and non-league. Also, the concluding section, which offers some suggestions is rather vague. Football has changed, and if the values the authors appeal to here are to have any future relevance, ways of reconciling them with the current climate need to be found; I kept hoping that the authors would attempt to map this out, but ultimately, they didn't. Their lament is hardly misplaced, but it became a little over-bearing by the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Charmingly irreverent
Charmingly irreverent and very fun, the book is a great read for any fan of football and its place in British life.
Published 6 months ago by Mr J D Brick
1.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy
Rob Smyth is a Kent Manchester United 'fan' - or should that be 'customer'. How football 'sold its soul' (TM) is down to the ilk of him.
Published on 27 April 2013 by TomF
2.0 out of 5 stars This book was a huge disappointment
I was really looking forward to getting this book but it totally failed to live up to its great title and premise. Read more
Published on 17 Jan. 2013 by MicCritic
1.0 out of 5 stars Moan, moan, moan
Having never written a review before on here I felt compelled to write a review for this book. Unfortunately that is because I don't understand how the other reviews rate this book... Read more
Published on 24 Sept. 2012 by JL88
2.0 out of 5 stars A dissenting voice!
I'm afraid I don't share the general enthusiasm of other reviews for this book! The basic premise of the book is that football has been spoilt by money and this has led to greed on... Read more
Published on 23 July 2012 by G. Page
5.0 out of 5 stars I used to support Spurs
This book succinctly shows why I shifted my allegiance from the "mighty" Tottenham Hotspurs (note - it's plural when it's Spurs so why not with the full name? Read more
Published on 10 Feb. 2012 by Big Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars For when someone says football is a business now...
Yes football is a business now but why has it turned into such a money hungry, morality free, opportunity for product placement? Read more
Published on 24 Jan. 2012 by Peter Gibbins
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book about what's gone wrong with football
This is a lovely book, beautifully written and laced with wit, that describes the excesses and compromises of modern football. Read more
Published on 5 Jan. 2012 by Billy Liddell
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