YES! WE DID IT!
Introducing the first 22 of 44 brilliant contributors to Falling for Football. Found a piece you really love? Want to read some more football-related wordery from the author of a piece you can't forget? Well you can find them all here. Lucky you.
Thanks to all our contributors. The personal touches you applied to your pieces and the effort you all put in has made the book what it is.
Cameroon 1990 – Greg Theoharis
I bet you can see it all before you now: the goal-scoring adventures of a man of dubious age, the wiggling at the corner flag, the scything tackles executed on players of bigger name and even bigger ego.
Greg has a sofa. He watches football on it. Then he writes, brilliantly, here: www.dispatchesfromafootballsofa.com. Greg was shortlisted for Football Blogger of the Year by the Football Supporters Federation in 2012 and 2013 and Dispatches was one of the Guardian’s top 100 football blogs to follow in 2011.
Barnestoneworth United 1922-23 – Daniel Gray
They have fallen down the Yorkshire League and seen players suspended due to ‘indecent exposure in a bakery’ or injured by ‘boils’ and ‘a cold sore.’ Few now stand alongside Gordon on the terraces of the Sewage Works Ground.
Daniel is the author of the brilliant Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams and Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels in England’s Football Provinces. His website is http://danielgraywriter.com.
Leicester City 1991 – David Bevan
All of it is teaching me something – how to celebrate success, how to cope with defeat and how to understand that a car full of people can come to travel over 250 miles in one day for no real reason at all.
David ran the brilliant football league website The Seventy-Two from 2010 to 2012.The archives of the site are available on The TwoUnfortunates website, with whom he established the Football League blog network. He was nominated for FSF Blogger of the Year in 2011.
Croatia 1996 – Andi Thomas
The second was that goal against Denmark, to round off a 3-0 scalping of the defending champions. Not just for the brutal, satanic geometry of the finish – an angle and weight so pure and malicious that it lifts the finest goalkeeper in the world high into the air, before depositing him in a helpless, hapless heap – but also for the ensuing celebration: one arm in the air, saluting the stadium and accepting the applause. A grin so wide as to threaten the structural integrity of his head. Compelling delight.
Andi was responsible for Twisted Blood, which was very good indeed, and he was also nominated for FSF Blogger of the Year in 2011 and 2012. He’s now features editor at SB Nation Soccer, the co-author of A Diary of Love and Hate and has also contributed to Deepest Red – a Manchester United anthology.
AC Milan 1990 – Musa Okwonga
This was a special year. A year when Luciano Pavarotti made sobbing at an opera acceptable to the masses; and a year when Adidas released the Etrusco Unico match ball, 20 panels of majesty, which remains the best of its kind that I have ever seen or sidefooted.
Musa is *deep breath* a poet, sportswriter, author, musician, journalist and broadcaster. If you haven’t already, you can see or read him on the BBC, ESPN, The New Statesman and The Blizzard. His website is http://www.okwonga.com.
South Korea 2002 – Michael Hudson
Ahn leads a lap of honour and, not for the last time that night, I feel a clap on my shoulder and a beer shoved into my hands. “Dae han min guk!” roars out again, and this time it sounds like the whole country is singing. It probably is.
While groundhopping his way around the world – and then writing about it here, Michael has contributed to In bed with Maradona, Sabotage Times, JSoccer Mag and the Football Pink.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1990 – Drew Kearns
No other side had a player who ran himself to a standstill every single game like Bull did. He played in the gold shirt like everybody standing on the South Bank would have, given the chance. He had his chance and he took it every time.
This is Drew’s first and so far best contribution to a book. When originally featured on this blog – among other musings he very kindly submitted – it became one of the most-read pieces we’ve ever had. Very popular on Wolves’ messageboards he was, too.
Nigeria 1996 – Adam Bushby
I’d never seen players like this before. I’d seen the likes of, Neil Webb, Carlton Palmer and Andy Sinton, but nothing like this.
What can we say about Adam Bushby that hasn’t been said already? Nothing, that’s what.
Heart of Midlothian 1953-54 – Ian Guthrie
All I can say about football nowadays and football when I played – you turned out there on a Saturday, on a rain-sodden pitch, with leather boots that would pass for mountaineering, a leather ball, with the lace around the outside… see most people, as I’ve travelled through life, most people just want to play a game of football on a Saturday.
Ian is a former Highland League footballer and now supports Inverness Caledonian Thistle, a fact that is a constant bone of contention with one of our editors as the club has started poaching players from, of all places, Macclesfield Town, then somehow making them look like absolute world-beaters.
Sheffield Wednesday 1993 – Alex Douglas
If football is the journey, then the teams that accompany us are our partners. I have to admit that in my early teens, I was a bit of a slag, chasing shirt. I have had exotic romances with foreign mistresses including a dirty weekend in Paris (St Germain) and an ultimately destructive on-off relationship with England.
Alex is an English teacher by profession but a champagne socialist by nature. When he’s not shopping in Whole Foods in Stoke Newington, he can be found writing politics for The Gateway and writing a Daily Mirror blog post of the week for Magic Spongers (the piece that can be found in Falling for Football).
Argentina 1986 – Dan Forman
I would like to say it was a political rebellion against Thatcher and the downing of the Belgrano, or a contrary two fingers to the blind patriotism and tabloid culture that made me side with Diego Maradona over Bobby Robson’s wronged and brave boys. But it wasn’t really, at least not at the age of seven.
Dan is a semi-regular, and consistently excellent, contributor to the Guardian-recommended, award-nominated Magic Spongers as he can’t be bothered to set up his own blog. And very glad of his tardiness we are too.
Weymouth FC 1987-90 – Kenny Legg
I’d spend the 20 minutes waiting time writing score predictions and the occasional motivational slogan using the medium of my own condensed breath and finger combination on the window. “Go Weymouth”, “Weymouth 17-0 Sutton”, “Weymouth 6-0 Aylesbury”. Rarely (i.e. never) did these predictions come true.
Kenny is the proprietor of the excellent Adventures in Tinpot website, a collection of firstly trips to and with his beloved Weymouth and latterly – and gloriously – around the German lower leagues. In operation since 2009, as the man says, don’t expect tactics. Expect pies and 90s pop reference. Which is just the way we like it.
Italy 1994 – Rob MacDonald
Baresi and Massaro missed in that shootout too, but Baggio’s is notorious, purely for the way he illuminated the knockout stages only for the light to flicker just when Italy needed it most.
See: Adam Bushby
Bournemouth 1988 – Chris Lines
Luther ‘Missett’. That’s what they used to call him in his Watford days. But as an eight-year-old in the late 1980s all I knew about Luther Blissett was that he’d played for AC Milan and scored an England hat-trick. Consequently I deduced that he was probably pretty flippin’ ace.
Chris is the brains behind Narrow the Angle, a blog high on opinion and diversity that can be found at http://narrow-the-angle.blogspot.co.uk. He’s contributed to these fair pages before (most memorably a piece slating Kevin Muscat) but perhaps much more impressively to When Saturday Comes and The Two Unfortunates.
Australia 2006 – Max Grieve
They were likeable, too – much of the public hadn’t yet got to know just how irritating Tim Cahill’s celebration was, and there were no expectations to place on players we didn’t want in the team. Putting the inevitability of a scoreless, winless campaign aside, there was a real positivity about the Australians.
Max is one of a reasonably rare breed – an Australian who can articulate stuff about football. We reckon he’s one of four or five. We can’t name the other three or four, mind. He’s written for the Football Ramble and the rather glorious The Substitution.
Plymouth Argyle 1993 – Lloyd Langman
There was very little going on in Plymouth at the time and the options for father-son bonding were impoverished: the parks were littered with needles; there was no shopping mall; no multiplex cinema; no ice rink; no bowling alley; no River bloody Café; little in the way of arts. Just one massive dockyard, slowly losing its grip on the city.
Lloyd is one half of the magnificent Two Unfortunates, now the internet’s stopping point for all things Football League-related. Another Guardian top 100 blog in 2011, as well as a nominee for Independent website of the year in the Football Supporter’s Federation Awards 2013, Lloyd and Rob have created a measured, comprehensive gold mine of content.
Canada 1994 – Richard Whittall
In June while the Jays were running up a losing season, an acquaintance of mine telephoned with a peculiar offer. He wanted to know if I wanted to go watch the Netherlands play Canada in an exhibition game at Varsity stadium, right in the core of downtown Toronto.
“Play them in what?” I probably asked.
Richard’s blog, A More Splendid Life, was featured as one of the Guardian’s top 100 blogs to follow in 2011. A More Splendid Life ran until 2012, when Richard moved to become full-time editor of the Footy Blog at theScore.com. He’s also written for ESPN FC, Guardian US, the Howler and XI Quarterly.
Arsenal 1987 – Roger Domeneghetti
All I really cared about was the playground bragging rights, but equally, football wasn’t analysed to death in those days and I wonder how many would have predicted that the defeat George Graham and his young team inflicted on Liverpool represented the first crack in the foundations of their domestic dominance.
Roger’s a football journalist and a prolific contributor, with scribblings featured everywhere from the great In bed with Maradona to procrastinator’s favourite Sabotage Times. He’s also writing a book – about football and the media – for our publisher Ockley, so watch this space.
Aston Villa 1998-99 – Jamie Cutteridge
For a 10-year old experiencing a less than joyous weekend, football offered a break; a glimmer of hope in a dark situation. The place of football in my life was confirmed as the game once again managed to extend beyond its meagre context to penetrate areas unrelated.
Jamie’s credits include contributions to the Mirror Online and a hefty involvement in the (so far) two iterations of Any Given Sunday Night, a site covering all the right aspects of the wrong type of football. But don’t let that put you off. We didn’t.
Queen of the South 1981 – Giancarlo Rinaldi
The goalkeeper was Alan Ball, who made something like three million appearances for the club. A giant-handed baldy with a broad north east of England accent he was my archetype for how a netminder should be. He used to work in a local garage and I was always a bit awestruck as he and my father haggled over the price of a Fiat Strada.
Giancarlo is the author of 20 Great Italian Games and has contributed to outlets as diverse as the BBC and the Manchester Evening News, among others. He also regularly blogs for Football Italia and has the unique perspective of blending his support for Fiorentina in Serie A with the altogether more earthy surroundings of Queen of the South in the Scottish Championship.
Spain 2002 – Ash Hashim
I’d like to think that the real story of Spain is one of a fearful young girl growing into a confident woman – the moment she reaches her peak is in the realisation of her flaws.
Ash is the founder of the brilliant Futbolita (The Female Football Voice), worth checking out for the remarkable list of interviews alone. Its reach spans everything from the Premier League to South America. Ash is also a widely published columnist and pundit.
Rossington FC 1997-98 – Glen Wilson
I don’t know the first game I went to; instead I retain a blur of sights and sounds from my formative years. The smell of liniment oil and deep heat, filling the bucket and struggling to carry it back whilst trying to work out what exactly made the sponge magic.
Glen is editor of the herculean Popular Stand fanzine, a ‘fanzine for the likes of Doncaster’ and has been since 2011. Profits from the fanzine are donated to Doncaster Rovers or Doncaster football related causes – and the website is well worth a visit, Rovers fan or not.