Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Above Head Height: A Five-a-Side Life by James Brown #bookreview

Book review: This book is "the autobiography of an amateur footballer, but it's not so much [his] story as our story." It contains tales from the author's life (related to five-a-side) but also assorted anecdotes from others (also related to five-a-side). And given the author was the founder of loaded magazine it is in the style of that. "The world of five-a-side can be as much about what happens off the pitch with your mates as on."

Originally I didn't see why he was making such a big deal over the distinction between five-a-side and normal football but the stats are presented in here (although not right at the beginning - this is not an academic paper) suggesting there is a movement from mainstream football to five-a-side. "Sport England have stated that since 2010 eleven-a-side games have been decreasing significantly, while between 2010 and 2013 alone organized leagues declined by 3,000 teams. At the same time small-sided games have been increasing significantly as the organized leagues and branded five-a-side centres have expanded into full-blown, trusted brands."

Indeed he delved into the history of five-a-side centres in the UK (with some proper journalism to go with the rest of the book) and found out that despite centres being quite commonplace now the first astroturf style centres only started appearing in the late-80s, with organized leagues starting in the 70s in sports halls. 

Other than that though the book is quite autobiographical detailing his love of football, his love of five-a-side, his detest of the rules such as above head height (because it denied him a brilliant volley of a goal but also because it causes disputes that eat up his playing time), his struggle with his fitness... But also he writes more generally how the players all delude themselves as they think they are Cruyff or whoever. And there is plenty of humour too, like his telling of an ex-coach whose catchphrase was "we're cooking with gas now" which gave the opposition plenty of laughs.

The book was also inspired somewhat by the organizer of his regular five-a-side gatherings who sadly passed away, James Kyllo. "The Sunday after he died, we gathered around the centre circle and stood for what seemed like five minutes silence."

So a decent read for football fans, with plenty to relate to.

Available on AMAZON UK HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment