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Real Football Real Fans: A Journey to the Heart of Football [Paperback]

William Barr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Morrow & Co; First Edition edition (5 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0948903295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0948903298
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,295,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

WAGS. Ferraris. The dire performance of the National Team. The greater the wages the smaller the achievement. Add to this a Premier League whose ambitions are global rather than for the benefit of the local fans and even without that extra fixture being played abroad it is clear our traditional game is losing its way. The average age of the football fan at our top clubs is rising and we are in danger of losing the tradition of family support. Real Football, Real Fans is a journey to the true heart of football. Join William Barr on his odyssey around the League 2 clubs to refresh his enthusiasm for real football. Join him at Stockport singing that strange last verse of the County Anthem. Meet the Human Megaphone at Bury whose lungpower stopped the referee in his tracks. Share the anxiety of Janet at Darlington as she watches the entire game with her fingers over her eyes. Rejoice in the amazing football produced by Sammy MacIlroy's Morecambe and wince with Carl Baker at where that magic spray was applied. Sup pints with the Accrington Ultras and see how near you get to their 40 point entrance test. Find out why Rochdale was so good that William went there twice. This warm and funny book celebrates a brand of football and a group of supporters which uphold the joy and enthusiasm which was widespread before the excesses crept in. It contains an account of the consumption and marking of matchday pies which is little short of astonishing.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Football, Real Fans, Real Life! 18 Nov 2008
I heard about this from a friend who is a Rotherham fan. Although I support a Championship side and watch Premier League games on TV, I decided to give it a go because, like many people, I love football and hate seeing it selling its soul to the money men.

The author spent last season seeing a game at every League 2 club and meeting some of the fans, supporters club members and local characters. The style of writing reminds me a lot of Michael Palin's travel programmes with wry observatations and real enthusiasm for the local communities he visits. There is some really interesting stuff in there and the author's banter with the locals and warmth for these often forgotten towns makes for an engaging read.

As for the football, there is a snappy report on each match but best of all is the way Barr explores the place League 2 football has in contrast to the mega bucks of the Premier League and what it is like to follow teams in that division. His arguments which he develops throughout the book are clear and well structured and provide an analysis of a system which is designed to make the rich clubs richer and poor clubs poorer - we all know this, but the strength of this book lies in the way the author explains it in the context of the clubs he visits. However, it's not all doom and gloom - what also emerges, is a picture of a league where clubs genuinely engage with their fans and a real taste of supporting the likes of Accrington Stanley.

This book is a must for all fans of the clubs involved (how many other books are there on the likes of Morcambe or MK Dons...?) but also a great read for anyone who fears for the heart and soul of football.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The heart of footie 18 Nov 2008
William Barr has given us back 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon football, the pools, Bob Danvers Walker and, above all pies and hot bovril. But this isn't a book of nostalgia, it's hard-nosed Division 2 where real football is alive and kicking. Take a break from the Premiership and the ghosted celebrity soccer biographies and read this lovely book. It's subtitled 'a journey to the heart of football' but it also takes you to the parts of England you may not visit every weekend - Grimsby, Mansfield, Accrington and Barnet. You'll find them full of surprises, scandals and humour. And you'll never pass Dagenham and Redbridge again with stopping for a pie or three.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny book - second division die-hards 13 Nov 2008
This is a very funny book, empathetic, strong on observation and realistic, honest detail. The book charts the swing in football towards celebrity, WAGS, big money, while the second division club supporters trudge on, supporting their teams, week after week, through thick and thin. It is very of the moment.
Football fans - real ones who stick with a team throughout their lives, are the potential readers and word-of-mouth market for this book.
The detail on the pies, grounds, supporters' songs, humour, rain, travel to matches and grounds, is very real and convincing.
It is excellent, well researched, and thorough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny and moving football book 18 Dec 2008
This is the first football book that I have ever read. I was given it by a friend who told me that it was a great account of the people and places associated with League 2 Football. That did not mean much to me but as I read it I became hooked on the story of these struggling clubs and of the determined and sometimes eccentric fans who support them. In the end a little too much football for my taste but a really good read
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3.0 out of 5 stars Heart in the right place 1 Mar 2009
A shame that this book was not published by a dedicated sports publisher as it did lack certain elements to make it a classic. The ideal behind the book to get away from the excesses of the Premier League and the media circus is commendable and I wish more people would support their local football teams rather than 'supporting' from the sofa.

Unfortunately, I do feel that the book is let down by a rather varied style of writing, a lack of criticism of some of the murkier elements of lower league football, a quite boring obsession with pies and made up pie scoreboards and some sloppy proofreading. I would, however, like to praise the author for his descriptions of the towns and grounds visited, his views on the excesses of the 'top' level, good but slightly short interviews with various supporters about their community work and his general appreciation of lower league football.

In conclusion I would recommend it to people who are yet to visit any of the clubs featured or never bother watching their local team to gain an insight into the pleasure of lower league football.
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