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19 Reviews
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spanish Sizzler!
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...
Published on 24 Jun 2002 by Mr. C. J. Davies

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzled
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...
Published on 1 Oct 2011 by Steve


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5.0 out of 5 stars EL BRILLIANTO!, 11 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (Paperback)
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. If you've got a footy fan in your family a great Christmas gift!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 3 July 2012
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Morbo - great read, 14 May 2012
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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 football and Spain in general - it is amazing how football is so inextricably linked with Spanish culture, politics and recent history

I hope the author does an updated edition for the last 10 years given Barca's dominance in this time period.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 8 May 2012
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This review is from: Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (Paperback)
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. I found the Barca book hard to put down, and found this one harder to pick up. I would not normally compare two different authors but with Mr Ball commenting on Jimmy Burns' book, (which I have also read and enjoyed), I feel comfortable in so doing. Like previous reviewers I did find comparisons between teams in the various areas and cities in Spain very interesting. However, as the book was about Spanish football I found it hard to understand why the earlier period was covered in great detail but the wonderful achievements made by the national side in Euro 2010 and World Cup 2012 were covered to a much lesser extent, not even getting a chapter devoted to the two tournaments. The book left me feeling that something had been missed.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Inside Story, 10 Dec 2008
Going Native in Catalonia [Catalunya]

This is without doubt the best book written in English on the subject of Spanish football. It is clear that Phil Ball knows and loves Spain just as much as he knows and loves football and consequently, he manages to appeal both to fans and historians.

Morbo recounts twentieth century Spanish history through the medium of the Beautiful Game without ever becoming turgid. A mixture of solid research and personal anecdote keeps the book alive from start to finish.

My only criticism is one of personal perspective. Phil Ball has lived in the Basque Country for the last twenty years and obviously supports Real Sociedad whereas I've lived in Catalonia for the same period and am a fervent Barcelona supporter. I felt slightly pricked when he described my club and region, but having said that he gets the facts right but just chose the wrong place to live and supports the wrong team - that's the adopted Catalan and Barça fan in me talking, by the way.

To sum up, a first class book, which I find myself referring to again and again especially before the big games!
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly off the Ball ...., 17 July 2008
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Gary Clarke "beeclarke2" (Ipswich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. The reason? That simple word `morbo'. Let me explain.

Phil Ball spends 21 pages setting the scene trying to explain exactly what morbo is (mix and match any 4 of the following and you'll have some idea - aggravation, antagonism, hatred, one-upmanship, antipathy, resentment, hostility, political and regional enmity). He then goes on to say that the book will revolve around the concept of morbo and what it means to Spanish football. However, in truth, only 3 of the book's chapters really focus 100% on morbo. These chapters are those on the Basque country, Barcelona and Madrid and are easily the best sections of the book. Chapter 6, on Seville and its 2 clubs, Sevilla and Betis, has a sprinkling of morbo but it's here that the book begins to lose its focus. The chapters on Galicia, Valencia, Spanish club culture and the national side are all good but not really connected with morbo.

`Morbo' kicks off the story of Spanish football in SW Spain in Huelva and briefly traces the origin of the game - brought over from Britain by those exploiting the Rio Tinto copper mines in the late 19th century.

After this follows 3 superb chapters on the Basque country, Barcelona and Madrid, the latter 2 being especially absorbing and interesting. Ball is certainly not shy of expressing his opinions in these chapters either. He questions the myth of Barca's `Dream Team' - 3 of their 4 titles were won on the last day of the season - and also pours scorn on the notion that Barca and the Camp Nou supporters were expressing their independence and resistance to Franco's regime. In fact he goes on to claim that "Barca's so-called threat to the regime was really not very threatening at all" and that it was only ETA's appearance in the early `70s who killed off any chance of the Franco years being extended beyond his death.

The chapter on Madrid focuses on Real's ruthless pursuit of winning and explains how Franco benefited from them. The stylish swagger with which they won European Cup after European Cup was seen to reflect Spain as a whole. Whereas the reality was that the country was on its knees - left out of the Marshall Plan after WW2, the economy in ruins and the rural population living in desperate poverty.

The chapter on Sevilla and Real Betis suffers from being immediately after those on Barcelona and Madrid and Ball asks at the end of the chapter "have I been trying desperately to unearth a rich vein of morbo where maybe only a smallish one exists"? And it seems, rather disappointingly, that he has.

One good thing about the book is that any sentences or phrases in Spanish, Catalan or Basque are fully translated so there is none of this snobbery that expects the reader to be able to understand anything not written in English. However, to counterbalance this good point I'm sure I won't be the only reader to tire of Ball's continual use of the annoying journalistic phrase "of course" (take those 2 words out of any sentence and the sentence will still make sense!).

Don't get me wrong, `Morbo' is a very good book, obviously well researched and lovingly and painstakingly written with some great stories, anecdotes and colourfully described club histories. However, you can't build a book up and say it will concentrate on morbo and then only dedicate half your book to the concept. If only Ball had put less emphasis on the morbo stance then instead of describing this book as very good I would have been using adjectives such as superb, brilliant, excellent, superlative .........
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Read, 8 Feb 2005
Good book, quite inciteful. Well written, I don't think there is enough focus on the famous modern Spainish players, but other than that I recommend giving it a read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but flawed, 13 Dec 2009
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 famous clubs. The book is in fact part history, part travel-writing as Ball crosses Spain visiting the most famous locations and reporting matches and his accounts of his trips are the most vivid sections of the book, bringing to life the atmosphere of contemporary Spain and reflecting on how regional rivalries have shaped the development of the game. Sadly, this structure also lets it down as a history and Ball does not really reflect on the role of more than a few key personalities in shaping the game. The book was published in 2003 after David Beckham's transfer to Real Madrid. 6 years later, it feels in need of an update.
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5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the paperback, 17 May 2001
By A Customer
A nice little introduction to Spanish Football for the uninitiated, but very little of substance for the Spanish Football fan that has not been presented elsewhere. A cute travel guide to Huelva & Seville but the usual information concerning Real-Barca and the Basque teams.
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Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football
Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football by Phil Ball (Paperback - 22 Aug 2011)
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