People often say that the biggest religion in the world is not even religion – it is football! I can’t help but agree with this, especially since football takes up a great part of my childhood and adult life. Ever since I could walk, I would run around with a ball, and I guess if I had known there were novels about football, I would have started reading even earlier.
There are many novels that revolve around football, but instead of a straight-up biography of a former football player, I opted for Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel Fever Pitch. Nick Hornby is known for many touching stories with a lot of wit and humour, but still talking about the important things in life. Fever Pitch is, in short, a book about things that unite us, give meaning to us and connect the broken of the big puzzle called life.
For Nick, an eleven-year-old boy with separated parents, that was football. The novel retells how he fell in love with this amazing sport and how football helped him find some level ground amidst all the chaos of turbulent and unruly years of young adulthood. His first football love was Arsenal, who then played at Highbury. For young Nick Hornby, who had no idea that he would be telling this story in a coming-of-age novel, it meant a lot that there was still something positive in a losing season.
The book is full of flashes of good humour, often self-deprecating, and it shows the famous author’s trademark – numerous funny and poignant moments in otherwise serious stories. The humour does not last for long, though, because a little bit grim, and at times morbid, life events are analyzed, with deep and philosophical conclusions coming out of these situations. Drawing inspiration from an addictive, yet simple game such as football, Hornby diligently teaches us important lessons about loyalty and love, both on and off the football pitch.
What will definitely speak to many people is Nick’s outright passion for football and the ability to draw so many parallels with his personal life, which is what all of us do with our favorite favourite pastime. As he says, we often begin to think that ________ ‘s (insert your favorite team here) moods and fortunes somehow reflect our own. You can clearly see how intertwined his life is with football, and you cannot but, even only for a moment, feel like an Arsenal fan yourself.
It is a book I would recommend not only to football fans, because there is a good chance they have already read it, but also to everyone who feels like they are in a losing team and that their standings at the end of the season are not looking good. It will shed some light on otherwise gloomy affairs, I can assure you, and with its charming humour, it will disarm that little negative that’s left inside. It is definitely one of the few sports novels that can be read in two different ways – as a story about football, and as a story about deeply private, emotional states and thoughts.