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on 13 February 2006
Heard about this book through Sport Pages and awaited it with bated breath: I was not disappointed. Simon Rance has taken his frustration with the big business of the English Premiership by the scruff of the neck and stripped away all its excesses to reveal the beating heart of football beneath. Cleverly, he chooses to follow a foreign club, instead of the run-of-the-mill grass roots option. And so this 'roast beef out of water' buys a season ticket to a French club, and not knowing a word of the language, travels to every home game to answer the question: 'Is it possible to become a fully-fledged fan in just a single season?'. Will Simon return broken and bankrupt or will the experiment restore his life-affirming love of the game? Recorded here are all the wild adventures along the way, from bar room brawls to nail-biting penalty shoot-outs. Fast-paced, funny and inspiring this unusual reportage also doubles as a streetwise guide to the city of Nantes itself. If you care about the future of football and your place in it, this book is a MUST. And just like our savvy narrator Simon Rance: it's a genuine one-off.
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on 14 February 2015
I was disappointed by this book and I ended up pleased that it only ran to 160 odd pages. There's little here about French football as the writer prefers to tell us about the time the spends with his famil, his job and how he gets drunk either before or after most matches. Every now and then the book enters travelogue territory as he visits some of the sites of Nantes and this is as interesting as it gets. The writing isn't bad, it's just rather dull and the attempts at humour are not exactly sophisticated, or funny . The story isn't really an odyssey as the writer attends few away matches and he misses a number of home games too. The match v Montpellier isn't mentioned at all and we are told that Sochaux are 'northerners', which they're not, unless Nantes are too. Watching a French club for a season was a good idea, but the writer's enthusiasm for football can't makeup for a lack of any insight into what makes French football different.
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on 6 March 2006
As someone who knows nothing about, and has no interest in football, I didn't expected to enjoy this book so much. Simon's enthusiasm is infectious and I found myself wishing myself in a pub in France exchanging broken banter with French footy fans or in a French stadium jumping around like a moron. Given I am unlikely to ever do either, it was a delight to live the dream through Simon's lively and descriptive prose. I would recommend this book to anyone (over 13-colourful language). It will make every man want to be Simon, and every girl glad she's not Hetty!!
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on 10 February 2006
Laugh out loud voyage of discovery as one man scrabbles to find an alternative to rip-off british football.
Simon Rance manages to beautifully blend a hilarious travelogue of his experiences with great sports writing. His passion on the subject and his ability to lay himself bare bleeds off every page.
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on 20 March 2007
It's about time a book about football was written by a real fan instead of some journo pretending to live on the edge as they stay in luxury accomodation and jet around the world watching footy, moaning about the hardship as if it is some kind of torture.

This writer, well, he can moan too, but he's a fan who clearly loves and cares for the game that he is writing about. His enthusiam for all things footy (not just FC Nantes) will stike familiar chords with all 'real' footy fans everywhere.

This is also a travel guide to a generally unknown part of Europe and a tour of a much over-looked league too.

Overall it is too short and some major games are given skimpish detail, but it is clear that the writer is paying for flights, match tickets etc out of his own pocket and thus cannot make every game.

A little too much emphasis is given to the writer's drinking and partying exploits, but this is no ordinary trip, and he is no ordinary sports writer. A football book for football fans by a football fan, you'll read nothing quite like it this year.
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on 10 February 2006
As a committed football fan I am always keen to read about the "beautiful game", an dkeen to gain alternative perspectives from other countries. What Mr Rance has done is take on the burden of travelling to another country and given us an isight into how the other half lives.
His perspective was invaluable and invigorating...Allez Nantes a travel guide it also works beautifully for a beautiful part of France.
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on 7 August 2006
I love football and love France and so this book seemed like a sure-fire winner. Shows how wrong you can be.

The book was a must-buy for me, because, despite being English, I have followed Sochaux (the villains at the end of the book) for five years. An account of the League Cup final and our first trophy win since the 1930s, written by someone who was there and supporting the opposition. It has to be great, right?

Well, no, not really. The account of the final is short and full of both spelling and factual errors. Sochaux (from the east of France near the Swiss border) become Northerners (???). Their players metamorphose as well - Richert becomes Richet, Frau becomes Fran, Mathieu becomes Mathieau.

There are also factual errors. The Sochaux goal came from a free-kick, not a corner. The Da Rocha shot for Nantes at the end of extra time was saved and it was Fae who put the follow-up over the bar, Flachez put his penalty over the bar - it wasn't saved.

The whole thing is just lazy - and the laziness continues throughout the book. Marie-Jeanne becomes Marie-Jan and then Marie-Jane. The station at Lyon becomes Parreche instead of Perrache. I could go on...

It doesn't take much to get a proof-reader to cut out spelling mistakes and actual factual errors. But Simon Rance does neither. The result is frustrating.

My other major gripe is about his writing. The idea of supporting a French team is great and his account should be just as great. It isn't.

Instead he comes across as arrogant and tedious. No opportunity is lost to tell us just how drunk he got after the game and how brutal his hangover is the next day - these sort of stories were amusing when you were a teenager, but should really be avoided when you are a guy in your late twenties.

His prose style is almost infantile. If you can put up with phrases such as 'result', 'top geezer' and 'dude' on a regular basis, you're a more patient man than I. He then decides to spice things up by effing and blinding throughout his narrative. It's childish and not very funny.

This is such a shame. The premise of the book was fantastic, but is let down by sloppy (or non-existent) proof-reading and an author who decides to let his own drinking exploits take precedence over actual match reports. If you don't believe me, try chapter 15, where two matches get half a page.

Or even worse, Nantes' French cup semi-final that year against PSG... the result of which isn't even mentioned!!! It only appears in the results section of the appendices.

If you want a book about supporting a foreign team, read Tim Parks' excellent 'A Season With Verona', which is everything 'The FC Nantes Experiment' is not - funny, well-written and accurate.

Avoid this book!
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on 22 November 2008
This book is obviously written by a fan,with a fan's perception,bias,affection,and good down to earth honesty.Its also about French attitudes,which in many ways put British to shame.
I would recommend it to anyone who follows football and likes it with a French twist.Thoroghly enjoyable.
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