Monday, June 13, 2011

Soccer Book Review: Brian Boyd on "Bloody Confused" by Chuck Culpepper

We at the PWT-blog don't just sit around and watch soccer all day.  We're more refined than that.  We also read about soccer, and today, I present to you friend of the PWT-blog Brian Boyd's review of the Chuck Culpepper soccer book called "Bloody Confused! A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer".

I just finished reading "Bloody Confused!" and as a fan of soccer and the English Premier League it is both entertaining and informative. Chuck Culpepper decides that in the 2006 / 2007 season he is going to follow one team in the English Premier League as a fan. He chooses Portsmouth FC that plays in Fratton Park.
He describes so well for us the highs and lows that true soccer converts feel as they follow their team. For example, Portsmouth in this season remains highly ranked all year and can move up with a win over Fulham FC in Craven Cottage. Portsmouth goes up 1 - 0 on an early goal and Chuck describes the agony of watching your team hang on minute by minute through the second half as the home team pounds your goal. He writes, "We even made it to ninety minutes, and through a good bit of the four minutes of added time. Added time had begun at 4:51pm, but I couldn't be sure how many seconds had passed within that minute, so I felt confused. I reached the point where you think just one or two more solid defensive plays might finish off matters."
Fulham nets a goal in the waning seconds of added time tying the score. The Portsmouth faithful feel as if they lost 3 - 0 and despair sets in. After games like this one, they end up drinking enough beer in a pub to "numb a yak".
The next week Portsmouth plays Manchester United, who is vying for the title, at Fratton Park. Portsmouth again goes up 1 - 0 early in the game and again agony sets in. Then in the 88th minute, Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United passes back to goalie Edwin van der Saar and somehow the ball rolls and rolls and rolls and ends up in the net. Chuck describes it as being in slow motion and somehow shock registered throughout Fratton Park. He writes "So as Fratton Park palpably went from this moment of vague confusion to this moment of grand realization, and as the realization seemed to spend a lagging second creeping up the rows and across the sections and into the top corners and the wigs and the drummers and the buglers and at least one blue bear, and as I began to absorb the truth probably another second after everybody else, something happened to me that I would not confess to just anybody. I cried. I hopped and hopped in disbelief, and the tears rolled."
Any true convert to soccer has experienced the highs (elation) and lows (depression) that accompanies the wins, draws, and losses of your team.
If you want to find out what is being sung in some of the songs, what the fans think of the center referee, how you buy tickets, how you travel to and from games, what watching from an English Pub is like, and much more, then this book is for you.
"After a year following the biggest league on earth, I may know a little about a little and not much about much, but I do know one thing. I think it's hard to be a fan."

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