Sportsman

Nick Hornby
Fever Pitch

Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby

In order to be prepared as good as possible for the Euro2008 a friend offered me this wonderful book. It is a kind of autobiography and Hornby describes how he became a football addicted fan of Arsenal, how football influenced his life, his career and his thinking and how mad irrational devoted true fans are. In a very revealing way, the author analyses himself, general fan behaviour, and the world of professional football not without pointing at the darker sides of football like racism, hooligans or clubs that become engines to make money. Though it could be argued that someone who is not interested in football at all would ever read this book, the author gives the interested reader a good clue what football, what being a real fan is about: Devotion, unconditional, ungrateful, self-scarifying devotion.  

To be honest, I did not know any of all the Arsenal players Hornby mentions. This may be linked to the fact that my interest in football started by the time the book finishes. The book is also quite messy as the author does not stick very strictly to the chronology. But when he describes passionately an excellent pass, a great move from the goal keeper, or a perfect goal, you almost see it happen.

What I found fascinating are the contradictions Hornby points out: to go to a match though it doesn’t have any influence on the championship anymore or to hope and to be loyal to your team though you have been disappointed a 100 times. And though football is far from influencing my life as strongly as Hornby’s, I understand how it feels when your team is loosing game after game, or winning unexpectedly or finally triumphing over all its enemies. And that is why I had a lot of fun reading it.

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4 responses to “Sportsman

  1. Great! It seems that you will be well prepared for the Euro2008 – although my enthusiasm for this event is mitigated by my preference for club football over national team football (and by the fact that I am an taxpayer). Why so many people seem to consider clubs to be ancillary is beyond my comprehension (all those foreigners playing in our league – the horror!). But after all there all also people who cannot figure out how a nation of say 80 million manages to constantly field a better national team than a nation of 8 million (of course numbers for this example are randomly chosen; any similarities with existing nations are completely coincidental).

  2. Hey Heinz! Yes, the book was really great. I’m looking very much forward to the Euro2008 especially since the national team is far more important to me than any club will ever be.
    Regarding the quality of the national team, I think the size of the nation providing it is not the most relevant factor. If this were the case, China and India would dominate football since ages. You also may find small countries like the Czech Republic (10 mio), Croatia (4,5 mio) or the Scandinavians (betw. 5 and 10 mio) managing to have good teams with chances to either annoy “big” football nations or even winning championchips.

    A very entertaining element in football is that it is not even the quality of the football which will decide upon the victory. Because if this were the case, the German Rumpelfussball as we experienced it yesterday evening, would have died a long long time ago.

    Schon ‘ne seltsame Angelegenheit…

  3. Just keep rubbing it in… The Germans playing Rumpelfussball and yet it almost ended in a rout. But of course Gary Lineker has already explained this phenomenon better than I could. For me the game was the final comfirmation of our chances in the Euro2008: We’re toast even if the players perform at the best of their abilities.

    Concerning the size of nations: Brazil (5x WC) 180m, Italy (4x) 60m, Germany (3x) 80m, Argentina (2x) 40m, Uruguay (2x, last time in 1950) 3m, France (1x) 65m, England (1x) 50m. Indians find it more amusing to hit a ball with a bat. In European Championships smaller nations were more successful, but although my mathematical skills got rusty I’ve no doubt that the additional elimination round in World Cups considerably lowers the odds for underdogs.

  4. Pingback: Words, words, words « La puce, die Welt and everything else

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