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This entertaining exploration of lower league football teams is in a league of its own – a must-read for fans of the Beautiful Game.
Written with all the dynamism and fluidity of a total football team, Gavin Bell’s Because It’s Saturday is essential reading for anyone who’s fallen for the Beautiful Game. Witty, warm-hearted and propelled by passion, the book’s overarching aim is to “take readers on a season ticket to sparsely filled grounds where managers and fans are on first-name terms and players join them for a pint after the game.” Here the author gives voice to the unsung heroes of lower league clubs, with plenty of personal anecdotes alongside interviews with devoted fans, players and staff, from local Roy of the Rovers type players, to the backroom heroes who freely give their time and skills to keep struggling clubs afloat.
The contrast between Premier League clubs and the teams Bell surveys (among them Accrington, Blackpool, Grimsby and Plymouth) reveals the extent to which modern football is a game of two halves: “If the stadia of glamour clubs are like gladiatorial arenas, those in the lower leagues are more like community playing fields where matches are social occasions for friends to catch up on local news and gossip over a pie and a pint.” At the same time, teams in the lower leagues “provide fields of dreams for the stars of tomorrow to hone their skills and attract big-club scouts. It is they who conjure the romance of cup ties in homespun grounds against giants of the Premiership, and fairy tales when they win.” What’s more, these teams provide fans with so much more than on-pitch entertainment. They’re the lifeblood of communities who “support their clubs and in return the clubs support their communities with extensive social welfare programmes.” It’s a beautiful, inspirational symbiotic relationship, much like this book is a beautiful, inspirational testament to the enduring enriching role played by the clubs it covers.
Because it's Saturday is a compelling portrait of life in the professional grass roots of football, far from the glitz and glamour of Premier League superstars. Why does anyone travel from Grimsby to Accrington on a wet Tuesday night in November to watch players battling on a muddy pitch with more gusto than grace? How do teams survive in half-empty stadia, and how does a Cotswolds village side owned by an ex-hippy challenge the likes of Luton for promotion? Award-winning writer Gavin Bell spoke to the owners, managers, players and supporters of eight lower-league sides, over the course of a season, to discover the fierce passions and loyalties that sustain clubs unlikely to win anything other than the devotion of their fans. Going beyond the fields of dreams, Bell explores the communities for whom these clubs are more than football teams. From gritty northern towns blighted by post-industrial decline, to ivory towers of academia and a seaside resort riven by a fans' civil war - it's a rollercoaster ride of a season.
|Publication date:||10th August 2020|
|Publisher:||Pitch Publishing Ltd|
Gavin Bell is an award-winning travel writer whose wanderings from Antarctica to Zanzibar have failed to diminish his passion for football and Motherwell FC. He is probably the only person who has cheered during heavy fighting in Beirut on hearing his team had beaten Celtic. Gavin is a former foreign correspondent of Reuters and The Times. This is his third book.More About Gavin Bell