Goal-Post Vol. 1

Victorian Football

Paul Brown (editor), 2012, Superelastic Publishing

This anthology is a gem for everybody interested in the earliest days of soccer. Paul Brown made the effort to screen to the reporting of soccer games before the 20th century and selected articles, which are well written but which also allow to learn about the development of the game from a non-regulated wild and sometimes brutal activity in cities and schools to the “association game”. You can read about the history of soccer, how it was seen at that days, general descriptions of the game and first training advices, how the Football Association was founded, how to form a football club, the first association cup games, the first international game, the first match played by the rules now common, the first game under floodlights, how the game developed in Scotland, how the traveling of teams took place and so on. The variety of the stories was quite astonishing for me. The style, although old-fashioned, is good to read and one can see much more differences in journalism from these times to today than in the soccer game. In the 19th century journalism was far more describing and reporting, sometimes with some poetic style, sometimes with the the will to educate but always with the idea to present something new to learn for the reader. In today’s journalism the news, like scores or which players signs a contract at which club, travel so fast, history facts are readily available to everyone through Wikipedia or Internet search, that media focus on the sensation to catch their audience. If one reads game reports from before the Internet age(1980s, beginning of 90s) and compares with today’s one can see that the earlier ones have far more detail and description of atmosphere in it, whereas the current ones can, and sometimes are, written by robots.
It is nice to see now that at least some of the websites or magazines around soccer take the Victorian writing as an example and get back to the storytelling. Describing the bigger context of a current crisis or success with a detailed analysis which is deeper than what one can do on one page or bringing history back to the mind of the readers, not just by repeating endless statistical data but really telling stories, differentiates websites and magazines more from the standard ones than one might think. Examples like No Dice or 11 Freunde are out there and they stand in the tradition of the journalism described in this book.

Biography: 1/3
History: 3/3
Background: 2/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 1/3

Next book: Mythos niederländischer Nachwuchsfußball (German, June 7th)


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