Wednesday 27 January 2021

Favourite Books #33

Okay, let’s get down to what really matters: football. David Conn is a Guardian sports journalist who qualified as a lawyer, after reading English and Politics at York University, who now specialises in financial investigations of contemporary soccer. He is also, mutatis mutandis, a lifelong Manchester City fan. Richer Than God mixes personal memoir with a thorough analysis of the changing fortunes of the club he has supported since boyhood. But Richer Than God is not just for City fans, but for anyone interested in the evolution of the modern game, as it engages with the ethical incongruities and cognitive dissonance involved in following a football club through thick and thin, and reckons with what it means to retain such affection in the face of the grubby late capitalist world we all endure. 

He has written three other books: The Football Business: Fair Game in the '90s? (1998) and The Beautiful Game?: Searching for the Soul of Football (2005) focus on the influence of money on modern day English football; while The Fall of the House of FIFA (2017) charts the corruption endemic at football's world governing body. He is also currently filing some fine pieces on the UK government’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

Incidentally, another great football read from the same year of publication (2012) is The Outsider by Jonathan Wilson, a study of the game’s odd man out, the goalkeeper (he can handle the ball!). The title provides a neat call-back to the previous entry in this series, which featured the famed Algerian shot-stopper, Albert Camus. (Nabokov, it may interest you to know, also briefly donned the gloves, playing as custodian while at Cambridge.) Whenever anyone sneeringly calls into question the validity of a grown man retaining a passion for watching twenty-two other grown men running around a field chasing a piece of inflated leather, I merely refer them to the quotation from Camus which forms the slogan which adorns one of my favourite t-shirts from my collection. See below. 

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