The Passions of the Press Box
Michael Calvin (editor), 2012, Integr8 Books
Weymouth FC, Leeds United, Portsmouth, Fulham, Montpellier, Derby County, Crystal Palace, Sunderland. When soccer journalists would follow their heart, you would read headlines about teams you hardly hear a word about today. In “Life’s a Pitch” journalist from the BT soccer webpage teamed up to tell the stories they cannot write about most of the time, because of their personal attachment to the clubs and players involved. They tell about the one season or the one successful run a team had for a short time when it raised out of mediocrity, they talk about brilliant players who always were undervalued, players who will always be remembered for one goal they made and players who lost the support of the fans completely. If someone, not a soccer fan himself, reads the stories they might wonder why the events described have lead to such an attachment with the clubs or soccer itself. These are no songs about heroes or Champion League wins, these are mostly stories of constant disappointment, except for this one glorious season in the past. Soccer fans can relate to that and know that going with a team through hard times will strengthen the bond with a club as much as championship wins. Getting excited every summer about the new players and the positive news from the training camps, followed by the disappointment in fall, when you know this season will be just as bad as the last one, that is what it means to be a real fan. It is the failures which make a team attractive, too. Being the underdog probably relates to as many people’s life as the wish of being a winner. And sometimes if this underdog feelings fades, because the club becomes too successful, the fans might even turn their back, quite the same as the good weather fans of the Top 3, because they cannot relate to it anymore. This underdog feeling is prominent in most of the stories in the book and allows you to understand why clubs have supporters even when they never did win anything.
The book kept me thinking about my own club and how I got attached to it. I did not really have the one event or game which did it for me. My interest in soccer and in Dynamo Dresden started when my uncle bought me my first weekly soccer newspaper and the special edition for the 1984/1985 season with all the teams in it. Since then I regularly read about soccer and up to this day I consume soccer majorly through reading news about it than watching it live or on TV. The late eighties and early nineties were the high times of the club I was able to follow, when they played in the European Cup and later after the reunion in the Bundesliga. That all ended 1995 when they dropped to the third league and then some years later even to the fourth. For a decade one disappointment followed another and they debt from the times in the Bundesliga where weighing heavy on the club, until it was at least able to come back to the second league. It is still a long road to old glories and I think the best they probably can achieve is to be an underdog in the Bundesliga but today a third league championship is as much as worth as a first league championship was in the past and the passion about following every game of the club, hasn’t changed a bit.
Tactics & Game philosophy: 0/3
Next book: The Blizzard Issue Ten (June 7th)