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Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football [Paperback]

Phil Ball
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

22 Aug 2011
Morbo is the unique element that gives Spanish football its special flavour. More than mere rivalry, it is the expression in a thousand provocative ways of the feeling between clubs divided by history, language and politics. At its most bitter between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the same spirit courses through the uncompromising politics of the Basque Country, hangs over the divided city of Seville and marks Spain s attitudes towards its national team. In this brand new 2011 edition , Phil Ball examines the recent successes of the Spanish national team in the World Cup of 2010 and the European Championship of 2008, as the dark horses finally managed to live up to their potential. In addition the analysis of the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is brought up to date to take account of the impact of José Mourinho and the many fractious recent encounters between the two clubs, in both domestic and European competition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: WSC Books Limited (22 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956101127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956101129
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

English writer Phil Ball has put the history of Spanish football into the context of the epomymous Morbo. Hard to pin down in translation (though the author manfully spends a chapter trying to explain the term in its fullest sense), "morbo" encapsulates the fierce rivalry across a club scene fragmented by history, language and politics. The bitter feeling between Barcelona and Real Madrid has, of course, been well-documented elsewhere. Here that famous rivalry is only one component of a landscape of antagonism. In particular, the Basque country in the north-west and Seville in the south both provide breeding grounds for a healthy portion of "morbo", and receive Ball's attention accordingly. The narrative captures the essence of that feeling perfectly, without failing to inform on a historical basis. A splendid chapter traces the ancestry of football in Spain back to the labourers in the English-owned copper mines in Huelva, Andalucia. While Spanish club football has always had its stars, from Di Stefano to Cruyff and Butragueno through to Raul and Luis Figo today, Ball shows that there is a greater force running in its lifeblood. Yet still there remains a paradox; he analyses the historical under-achievement of the Spanish national side in major international tournaments.

The new millennium has seen excellent books focusing on football culture in Holland and France--namely Brilliant Orange and Le Foot. At a time when the stock of Spanish club football has perhaps not been higher since the heyday of Real Madrid in the late 50s and early 60s, Morbo, a triumph in the same vein, thankfully allows us to add Spain to the list. --Trevor Crowe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Excellent... Phil Ball has written nothing less than a guide to Spanish life --Simon Kuper, Observer

A fascinating book, full of politics and culture as well as football --Independent

His eye for the thrilling moment is matched only by his succinct manner in telling the tale --World Soccer

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spanish Sizzler! 24 Jun 2002
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, simply because it did not just focus entirely on football.
It tells us how various regions within Spain, such as the Basque Country, Andalucia, San Sebastian and Catalan all thrive for a spot in the limelight on, and off the pitch.
Of course, no Spanish history book could avoid the subject of the Civil War and the regime of Franco that soon followed. How he got satisfaction seeing the great Real Madrid side of the 50s make a clean sweep on the European stage is also well covered.
A superb book with many interesting facts and trivia, and great references to Spanish greats such as Zamora, Di Stefano and Butragueno.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morbo! 8 Aug 2006
There really is no shortage of excellent books on football in particular countries -- Brilliant Orange, Futebol, Tor, Calcio -- but Phil Ball's book on Spanish footballing culture is among the best.
From its star-studded league to the biggest derby in the world, Spain is not lacking in interesting stories to tell, and,thankfullly,Ball is a great storyteller who has crafted a wonderfully entertaining book. His insightful stories of, not only the Madrid-Barcelona rivalry, but also of the rivalries in Seville and the Basque country are erudite yet enjoyable to read. Brilliant, don't miss it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phil Ball scores with Morbo 5 May 2006
By Seoman
Morbo by Phil Ball is the fascinating story of Spanish football. Erudite yet easy to read, full of the quirky characters which inhabit the Spanish game. This book highlights the contradictions and misconceptions which inhabit the heart of the Spanish game and Spanish society. Essential reading for anyone with even the most remote interest in all and any things Spanish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Let's face it, football books are generally aimed at complete morons. The premise seems to be that if you're into football then you must be an ill-educated, lager-swilling idiot full of testosterone, itching for a fight, some alpha male gorilla who can't even handle words over three syllables. In reality, we know that's not exclusively true and a massive cross-section of society both watch and follow the game. The beautiful game is a passion for people of all faiths, intellects, colours, nationalities, and of varying economic status all over the world. This book is for a true lover of the game. Most people want to read only about their favourite club, but many of us just love to learn and immerse ourselves in football, whichever team or country is concerned, it's all football. This book is a treat for anyone who simply loves the game and can use their brain as well.

I'm a Barca fan, and a regular visitor to Barcelona to watch matches and I know a fair bit about the history of Catalonia and the club. But i was delighted to discover and learn a lot more of the intricate and complicated politics of many other clubs in Spain, far removed beyond the well-known rivalry of Barca v Real Madrid. I also enjoy history and politics, so this book was a treat. footy plus politics plus history...a truly fascinating combo. The story of the Rangers/Celtic old firm rivalry is but one of many similar highly-charged and politically motivated football rivalries in the world that go far beyond just having a favourite football team. Football in the UK (with the exception of the Old Firm) does not carry a political or social aspect or importance, and in some ways we're missing out on all the fun. This will be explained in the books chapters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzled 1 Oct 2011
By Steve
Mr Ball kept me interested in all non Real-Barca related matter,he should have done his homework better on these two Giants of Spanish Football.There are a number of facts he got wrong and I ask him to look at the subjects from BOTH sides.The fact he also had called into account Jim Burns book "Barca"to add credence to his point also I felt was not necessary.I felt this was below him and he shouldn't have felt the urge to do so.I learnt alot about football in this Country through the pages which I hadn't read anywhere before.I look forward to the cross reference with other Authors on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT book 18 July 2011
A MUST for any football fan! Especially for followers of Spanish League. Well written and full of interesting stories and facts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Football & Politics 31 Oct 2008
By 1895
If you have any interest in Spanish football and the inescapable regionalism that comes with it, you must read this book.

The author gets under the skin of Spanish football and into the skin of Spanish life and history to tell an amazing story of a conundrum of a country.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spanish football is unique 12 Jan 2006
More than anywhere, spain and football go hand in hand. Throughout his deep, balanced and entertaining analysis, Phil Ball manages to paint a precise picture of the complex history of spanish football. A true journalist, he seeks information from the locals -taxi drivers, barmen,...-, he visits the cities, the stadiums, the fiestas and manages to deliver a fascinating portrait of iberian life. Definitely a good read, and recommended to all football enthusiasts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars spanish football
well written and well presented. Author really knows his stuff. Pity about his own personal decision not to include one of Spain's biggest clubs in the story of Spanish football. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Eric Thomas Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars EL BRILLIANTO!
Great book that takes you round Spain and through it's history, looking at some of the lesser teams as well as the mighty Real and Barca. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Steptoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Brilliant book! Very well connected and explained! Gives a wonderful view of Spanish society, history, politics and of course FOOTBALL and its Morbo! 5 stars indeed!
Published on 3 July 2012 by Jimmyc10
5.0 out of 5 stars Morbo - great read
Alwayss enjoyed the author's regular columns on Soccernet and this didn't disappoint. Really well written and insightful book, thoroughly recommeded to anyone interested in... Read more
Published on 14 May 2012 by Gareth Major
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
I read this book within weeks of reading Graham Hunter's 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World', which was possibly a mistake. Read more
Published on 8 May 2012 by Transha
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but flawed
Phil Ball's history of Spanish football outlines many of the key incidents and characters who have shaped the development of Spanish Football, looking at the history of the most... Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2009 by b
4.0 out of 5 stars The Inside Story
Going Native in Catalonia [Catalunya]

This is without doubt the best book written in English on the subject of Spanish football. Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2008 by Simon Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly off the Ball ....
1st off - if the stars above had decimal points I'd award `Morbo' 3.5 or possibly 3.75. The work is probably better than the 3 stars I've given it but certainly not worth 4. Read more
Published on 17 July 2008 by Gary Clarke
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