on 17 October 2014
This is a brilliant book about German football, the chapter about the naming of German teams is worth the money alone. If only every book about football in other countries (Spain, Italy, Holland, France) was written more like this one then they'd be improved.
Tor! takes you from the beginnings of football in Germany to how it was organised, how the clubs came into being, and why it was until the 1960s(!) that Germany had a national league, and it was the 1970s until there was full professionalism and no maximum wage. By comparison, the Football League started up in the 1880s. As a side note, Germany won the 1954 World Cup before they had professional football or a nationwide league, a fact that I found amazing.
I've read Tor!, Morbo, Calcio, and Brilliant Orange and I'd rank them as follows:
1. Tor!: The Story of German Football
2. Calcio: A History of Italian Football
3. Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football
4: Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
If you have any interest in Germany, German football, the Bundesliga, you must buy this book by the incomparable Uli Hesse, who writes terrific articles on ESPN as well. It is a fascinating account of the history of football in Germany that does not hold back from examining all periods and is delivered in a well written and informative way.
on 22 February 2014
As a follower of German football since 2000, I hoped that someone would write an accessible history book on the subject, following on from similar volumes on Italian, Spanish and Dutch football. When the second edition arrived in the Summer of 2002, it certainly didn't disappoint.
What you get is simple - although written by a German author, no aspect of football in the country, whether good or bad, is left uncovered. From the early years of fighting for respectability in the face of opposition from the gymnastics movement, through gathering momentum in the 20's and 30's, the horrors of the Nazi regime and war years, then onto the 'Miracle of Bern', the building of dominant sides in the 60's and 70's, the TV explosion of the late 80's, then the nadir of Euro 2000 and the partial recovery of World Cup 2002, the whole history is covered.
What is noticeable is that the author does all of this with a 'fans view' - sometimes poignant, sometimes humourous, always totally gripping.
That edition is what I am basing my review on - in the eleven years since, German football has experienced a dramatic and wholly deserved rise to its current level - monopolising the Champions League final at Wembley and playing one of the best matches seen at that stage just the latest in a series of new milestones.
I am looking forward to reading what the author, a Dortmund fan, thinks of his club's return from near bankruptcy to the top of the tree, and Bayern Munchen's own journey from a successful, though not always popular, team to one of the richest and most admired clubs in world football. Not to mention the peaks and troughs of the national side's performances, and the new generation of young players coming through.
All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know what German football is REALLY like - put your preconceptions aside, and enjoy a long, sometimes rocky, controversial, thrilling but always surprising journey. As Sepp Herberger once said, 'Der Ball Ist Rund'.
on 5 January 2016
A fantastic book for anyone interested in German football; why have they got it so right, what is the 50% + 1 ownership rule.
More than that, it provides a potted history on the founding of the game there, why the clubs have (to us) unusual names, the rise, fall and rise again of the National team, particularly the effects of 1954's Miracle of Berne of national confidence and the formation and growth of the Bundesliga to it's standing in world football today. All with numerous asides and anecdotes throughout (did you know about the East German player who defected to the West and was then 'allegedly' killed by the Stasi?).
A great read.