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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Fever Pitch' for the early 21st century
As football gets ever-more commercial, so the fans suffer - priced out of the grounds, subject to aggressive merchandising campaigns by clubs and TV companies alike. And as for the books; authorised club histories, ghosted autobiographies, sensationalistic tales of organised hooliganism - hardly worth browsing, let alone buying. Well, apart from 'Fever Pitch', but that...
Published on 2 April 2005 by N. Young

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For football fans who possess a conscience
The Fan takes us through the seven seasons of football, from England's parks on Sunday mornings via the Football League, Premier League, La Liga and Europe to the major summer tournaments of recent years. Taken from Davies' football column in The New Statesman, the short anecdotal nature of each chapter makes it very easy to read and digest. Whether it be fans' trials,...
Published on 13 Jan 2009 by Oldevers


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Fever Pitch' for the early 21st century, 2 April 2005
By 
N. Young (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fan (Paperback)
As football gets ever-more commercial, so the fans suffer - priced out of the grounds, subject to aggressive merchandising campaigns by clubs and TV companies alike. And as for the books; authorised club histories, ghosted autobiographies, sensationalistic tales of organised hooliganism - hardly worth browsing, let alone buying. Well, apart from 'Fever Pitch', but that only goes up to the early 90s, and is understandably Arsenal-centric. Enter 'The Fan'. Here is the modern game as seen from a relatively unbiased real fan's perspective - and what a fan. Supporting Carlisle United (home club) and Spurs (London club) comes as a secondary priority to Hunter Davies - his main aim is that, if there's a game being played and he's got a chance of getting to see it, he will make sure that he sees it. And there's also no aspect about the game that he won't mention in his 'New Statesman' column (this book being a compendium of his 'best' offerings from 1996/97 to 2002/03) - pies, David Beckham's haircuts, 'Sports Report' on Radio 5 Live (anyone else tried to get from the ground to the car before the theme tune starts? I know I have), Sky TV pundits, the toilets at old Wembley ... all English footballing life is here. Even down to the travails of trying to find a pub showing a particular game on a Tuesday night, and then trying to cocnentrate on watching said game while none of your fellow-drinkers are in the least bit interested. If you've ever done this, or camped out in front of the TV for the duration of a World Cup, you should read this book even if you never read another football book. Because here is a book by a fan, for the fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For football fans who possess a conscience, 13 Jan 2009
By 
Oldevers (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fan (Paperback)
The Fan takes us through the seven seasons of football, from England's parks on Sunday mornings via the Football League, Premier League, La Liga and Europe to the major summer tournaments of recent years. Taken from Davies' football column in The New Statesman, the short anecdotal nature of each chapter makes it very easy to read and digest. Whether it be fans' trials, tribulations or triumphs, they are recounted, from dodging the wife in order to watch a League Cup match in peace to the unbridled joy of Munich in 2001, or concern over the more serious issues facing football. Because the author's love of football overrides the usual bias associated with us supporters, the opinions are expressed with a remarkable objectivity and no little humour.

Reading the diary-entry like pieces with the benefit of hindsight proves both amusing and interesting. Enabling the reader to scoff at some of Hunt's woeful football predictions (England to do well at Euro 2000, anyone?), while pondering and fretting about some of the off-field developments Davies brings to our attention. Whether they be the well-worn but still relevant subject of the treatment of fans by clubs, or his concerns over a cult of young men with too little education and too much disposable income that seems to have come home to roost this season like never before.

What I found most amusing was the "Groundhog Day" qualities of Hunt's first visit to Spurs each season. Every year Davies makes his return to London to find that his journey to White Hart Lane takes longer, the price of everything from his season ticket to his cup of tea has risen, his favourite player has been sold and his nauseating neighbours in the stands are already chanting for the manager to be sacked.

Hunter Davies' The Fan is easy reading about football and being a fan with a conscience. There are elements of watching football, on TV or at the ground, which will make a connection with supporters on several levels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fan, 6 April 2009
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N. Camp - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fan (Paperback)
Very good book by an excellent author. All of Hunter's biographies are worth reading. He has a very amusing style of writing that keeps you interested from the first word on the first page to the last word on the last page.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Living in Botswana with John Gregory and Howard Wilkinson, 2 Aug 2012
By 
S. Bailey - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fan (Paperback)
For the past 16 years the author and journalist Hunter Davies has been writing a regular column on football for the earnest, left-wing current affairs weekly, New Statesman. This chummily-titled compendium - from the small publishing label Pomona Books - reprints approximately half of the 223 lighthearted pieces published in there between 1996 and 2003, on a wide range of subjects, including: David Beckham's many haircuts; Sky TV pundits, and the gradual disappearance of Saturday afternoon football.

Is it any good? Well, Davies has certainly had plenty of experience of writing about his subject - as he reminds us in the introduction he has already written 7 football books (including 1972's highly-regarded The Glory Game, which remains in print today). There is the occasionally percipient remark. He captures how the call for armbands and one-minute silences at football matches - as a mark of respect - has got out of hand in a single, unqualified sentence ("At Spurs this season, we all stood for one minute's silence for Glenn Hoddle's dad".). And he shows that he does have a good eye for a footballer - in November 2001 he tells us that he has, "liked the look of Ashley Cole of Arsenal, playing for England's Under 21s. And also Michael Carrick of West Ham".

But I have to admit there are one too many digressive, 750 word reflections on the dismal performances of Carlisle United, the toilets at the old Wembley, trying to find a pub showing a particular game on a Tuesday night, which I forgot almost as soon as I read them, because Davies insists on intervening in his own pieces with rambling asides about anything from the weather, to his wife, or the price of fish. A fair few of them were so devoid of point, or purpose, that they left me yearning for the tat that often passes for football literature - "authorised club histories, ghosted autobiographies, sensationalistic tales of organised hooliganism". And there is far too little concern over the more serious issues facing the modern football fan. Lazy, complacent remarks like, "I have paid for Sky, but what have I paid? I can't even remember how much it costs for cable which must prove, something, or nothing", and "I have paid £600 for my season ticket. Am I going willfully to waste it?" are alienating to the average fan, who many claim Davies is representing, and also prove to be intellectually stultifying. Unfortunately, The Fan is also chock-full of tedious anecdotes, and constant name-dropping at any hint of an opportunity ("Last week, I had a dinner with a QC", "In Mustique last month, I had a drink with Felix Dennis at his house", "The last proper conversation I had with a prime minister about football was with Harold Wilson", and so on). It is strange because there is a tartness to some of Davies work - he is bracingly irreverent in the way that he writes about Princess Diana and the Queen Mother in pieces written very shortly after their deaths in 1997 and 2002.*

I also feel that the book could have been far better edited. A far more judicious selection of Davies' columns would have resulted in far less repetition between columns - for instance, we are told on at least four separate occasions that his daughter Caitlin, a journalist, is living in Botswana. And there are some truly unforgivable typographical errors for a football book: England's 1966 World Cup legend Nobby Stiles is 'Nobby Styles', whilst Glasgow Celtic's European Cup winning winger Jimmy Johnstone is 'Jimmy Johnson' here.

Reading certain entries, with the benefit of hindsight, had me audibly muttering, 'The more things change, the more they stay the same'. A piece on the breast-beating, soul-searching, cliché-clutching following England's ignominious exit at Euro 2000 had the fourth estate, according to Davies, saying: "We must copy Johnny Foreigner's training methods, diets, sexy shorts, slipper boots, command of English, great haircuts". But, at other points in my reading I was left whistling Willie Nelson songs, while feeling how funny it is how time slips away. George Best has now passed away. John Motson has retired from commentating full-time for the BBC. Football manager's Howard Wilkinson and John Gregory seem to have simply dematerialized. But most of all, this 337 page book, perhaps unintentionally, showed me that this self-proclaimed follower of Arsenal, Carlisle United, England, Motherwell, Queen of the South, Scotland, and Tottenham Hotspur, isn't exactly your average fan.
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The Fan by Hunter Davies (Paperback - 1 Nov 2003)
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