Great writing about soccer?
May 16, 2009 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Soccerfilter: where would I find the best descriptions of game play?

I'm a writer and my latest project requires a scene or two set at soccer games in Abadan, Iran in the early 1950s. I know very little about the game. For me, researching Iran is easy in comparison. I'd really like to be able to evoke some of the excitement of a soccer match by describing some thrilling game play. Does anyone know of a good source for this? Descriptions of famous or not-so-famous games that I can read would be ideal. The Abadan team played Brazilian style, I know, so description of amazing Brazilian games might be best for my purposes. Thanks!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm English, and I still know very little about the gameplay. A good start would be to have a look at some Youtube videos of football (ok. soccer) matches, and then at least you'll be able to fit any written description to a visual cue.
posted by Petrot at 8:18 AM on May 16, 2009

This is a good, contemporary example.

(can you read other languages other than english? there are some amazing brazilian writers...)

Also, a perspective on the history of football in Iran.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 8:58 AM on May 16, 2009

I'm relegated to English, alas.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:03 AM on May 16, 2009

Oh, and Jorge Valdano was a great football player but he can also write very well, so you might want to google more of his columns.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:05 AM on May 16, 2009

Lucia, that is great stuff right there. The pictures really help! And I hadn't thought of Youtube, Petrot, so that is also very helpful.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:11 AM on May 16, 2009

Oh man! You need (need!) Soccer in Sun and Shadow. It's an easy, fast read, that makes you passionately care about every goal scored in the 1928 World Cup.
posted by aint broke at 9:16 AM on May 16, 2009

The Guardian has this tool called "chalkboards" which is a little confusing but does show strategy and different player's talents and so forth mapped out visually
posted by Rumple at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2009

Another visual option is the film Offside, which is about a group of girls trying to sneak into the (men-only) stadium to watch Iran play in a crucial World Cup qualifier. It was filmed at the game itself, so should give you a good idea about what football looks like in Iran now and how the fans react (noting of course that you're writing about the 50s).
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:28 AM on May 16, 2009

Don't know where you are, but in the U.S., Goltv is showing matches from the Brasileirao every weekend.
posted by Zambrano at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2009

The wisdom of the ages, right here on MeFi. Thanks, all! Plus, Offside sounds great, Infinite Jest -- just the sort of offbeat film I really enjoy.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2009

There is an important (and potentially very good) match coming up on 27 May, the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United. It'll be on ESPN2 sometime in the afternoon. You probably won't want to emulate the ESPN commentary, but you'll be doing yourself a favor if you watch it.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2009

Also, the 9th chapter of How Soccer Explains the World is about Iran.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 1:00 PM on May 16, 2009

Definitely watch that game, it features the two best club sides in the world; both of which usually play a superb attacking style (though I suspect that Manchester United will play more defensively, as they did when the teams met in the semi-finals last year). But please don't listen to the ESPN commentary, it is awful. Watch the game, by all means, but try to find an alternative version online, or watch it without paying attention to anything the commentators say, other than the names of the players. Although it's quite likely that they will get that wrong too.

Another thought: the tactics of the game have changed hugely over the years; so modern descriptions of gameplay/tactics might not be too useful. Interesting developments in the 1950s included the emergence of Hungary - this game from 1953 is legendary (at least in England).

If you're talking the early 50s, then the team would presumably be taking their influence from Brazil at the 1950 World Cup (where Brazil lost in the final). That was the first world cup since 1938. Wikipedia on the final.

Oh; Brian Glanville is a well-respected football writer - I couldn't recommend a particular book though.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2009

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