Sunday 22 September 2019

Football FAQ has an entertaining, breezy formula

Book review

It cannot be an easy task sitting down to pen a book on soccer which doesn't have a very specific theme.

After all, the beautiful game has been written about in all its glory since it first took hold across the globe, so how is it possible to publish another general publication on the subject which will encourage punters to part with their hard-earned cash?

That was the task facing Dave Thompson when he pondered the route to take as he compiled 'Football FAQ - All That's Left To Know About The Clubs, The Players, And Their Rivalries'.

It's tempting to pose the question: 'was there really anything left to know?'.

Therein lay the difficulty for the author. The last thing required on the bookshelves was another stuffy history of a sport played the world over; an entertaining, engaging read was needed and, credit where it's due, Thompson has managed to come up with a finished product that meets that criteria.

Sometimes quirky and more often than not enlightening, this book is the type that a reader will dip into or jump backwards and forwards from various sections as opposed to absorbing every word from cover to cover.

It sets out to be as informative as possible but in a breezy style, and in my view it succeeds.

I also like the liberal use of illustrations drawn heavily from collections of soccer memorabilia which are sprinkled throughout the book.

The text is adorned by accompanying shots of match programme and dodgy record covers, the cigarette cards of old, posters, comic books and the like, all of which add to the subject matter and heighten the sense of being entertained while increasing one's general knowledge of soccer in the process.

Thompson has been writing about the sport for more than 30 years, so he has honed his style and is a regular contributor to popular magazines like Total Football, Programme Monthly, USA Soccer News and Football Monthly.

This book is part of the extensive FAQ series whereby a particular subject is tackled with a view to making it as accessible and beneficial to the die-hard fan as the person seeking information on the topic for the first time.

However, this appears to be the fledgling venture into the sporting sphere as music and films provide the subject matter for the remainder of the books listed.

If you like the approach taken here to enlighten you about the finer points of soccer, you may be tempted to see what FAQ has to offer on such diverse performers as The Who, Lucille Ball, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen or Nirvana, not to mention film noir, horror films, Sherlock Holmes or the films of Stephen King.

There is a helpful 20-page world soccer timeline near the back of the book which is an effective potted history for the uninitiated, and this is followed by a glossary of terms which breaks it down even more for the reader starting without much knowledge of the subject.

In reality though, most people have at least a general understanding of this global game, and they will be drawn to the earlier sections where the A to Z of the sport from an international scale right down to the grassroots gets plentiful coverage.

The topics are dealt with in short and snappy segments too, so there is no fear of getting bogged down in the subject matter. I enjoyed this book and it's a welcome addition to the FAQ stable.


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