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Savage Enthusiasm: A History of Football Fans Paperback – 6 Sep 2017
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"A very decent, impeccably sourced, primer on what has happened to fans
down the ages." - *When Saturday Comes*
"An excellent read, rich in anecdotes and explanation." - *Game of the
"A splendid new book by [an] always exemplary researcher" - *Sports
About the Author
Paul Brown writes about football history for FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard and The Guardian. His previous football books include The Victorian Football Miscellany, All With Smiling Faces and Unofficial Football World Champions.
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I won't deny that there are plenty of interesting anecdotes but it certainly isn't a definitive history. Anyone expecting a serious study of the history of football supporters will be disappointed. The content is superficial and it reads as though the project has been too ambitious to be done justice. Had the subject been confined to the North East - with which Paul is evidently familiar - and limited to a shorter timeframe I suspect that 'Savage Enthusiasm' might have been a valuable record. As it stands, this is not a book that will be remembered for its originality or depth.
It would have helped if there had been a comparison of different eras and an attempt to identify common themes. For example there is considerable coverage of AFC Wimbledon and FC United and yet whilst reference is made to fans' ownership of modern day clubs, the theme of member organisations and participation in the nineteenth century is completely overlooked. So too the author is oblivious to the parallels and similarities with c19th rugby clubs. Likewise the role of supporter fund-raising to keep clubs alive long before the financial crises of recent decades is completely overlooked and yet this was critical for the survival of many in the lower divisions of the Football League. The author refers to the circumstances of the Bradford City Fire Disaster yet betrays a complete ignorance of the facts and a lack of wider investigation beyond reliance upon Martin Fletcher's book, '56' (the conclusions of which have been dismissed by the vast majority of Bradford City supporters). Frankly, once you get past chapter seven, the rest of 'Savage Enthusiasm' (remaining 11 chapters) reads as though it has been rushed.