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The beautiful game?
on 18 August 2005
The first season spent in the dizzy heights of Serie B, in their entire history, by Castel Di Sangro is shared by American writer Joe McGinniss in this fascinating book.
McGinniss spends the entire 1996/97 season in the small hamlet of Castel Di Sangro. It's calcio (football to you and me, maybe soccer to the author) club is at the very heart of this remarkable tale of survival. The author gets so close to the team though that the book is about far more than football. Lies, deception, scandal and tragedy all come to the fore whilst the footballing miracle unfolds.
In fact, so much unfolds between September 1996 and May 1997, that you will not want to do anything else but read on. The book, by and large, seems to be written with the American audience in mind, which in actual fact helps the tale have small respites for avid football followers. The season is described chronologically, which again makes the story very readable.
The only negative is that the author, despite by his own admission being new to the sport, seems to consider himself an expert in the game. Frequently he describes how he told the manager to do this or that, and seems genuinely surprised when the experienced Italian coach rebuffs his ideas.
Overall, a fascinating tale of an almost surreal season for Castel Di Sangro. Joe McGinniss is welcomed so much into the heart of the community and club, that we find out a great deal about the activities of a small Italian football club, in this intelligently written story.