Great start with the chapter about the long away trip. Thought it got a bit bogged down with diversions about of a third of the way through, then ended strongly reflecting the drama of the season.
A thoughtful book, that managed to marry up the visceral thrill of fanatically following this infuriating team with meditations on how it fits with the rest of people's live and society....Continua
British intellectual travels with hooligans all over Italy for a year, following all the matches of his beloved Hellas Verona, and tries to explain hooliganism to British readers but first of all to himself. Considering how much I despise football, the fact that I find this book unputdownable should explain you how good Parks is.
He is so blinded by his love for Verona that he kind of finds excuses for the hooligans (they're good guys after all, they're mama's boys, they're nowhere as violent as their UK counterparts, they insult everybody just as a ritual, really), and I was perplexed at one episode where the boys verbally harass a girl on a train and he doesn't say anything. On the other hand, he explains that football rivalry is basically a ritual, that Veronese turned insults into a fine, "literary" art (what they shout in Udine is UNFORGIVABLE but you'll laugh; same about the Stevanin song, and when they all show up in Naples wearing sterile masks "against the smell").
Unfortunately, the first chapter is the best - the epic trek through Italy on a ratty night coach from Verona to Bari, amidst coked-up Veronese who only speak dialect and never saw a foreigner in their ranks; and the marvellous scene of the fan who loses his 1985 hat in the stadium in Bari, which is straight out of classic Italian comedy - and the rest of the book is lamer than the stunning beginning. However, I'm a sucker for anything Parks writes as long as it's non-fiction....Continua