Sources for good football/Soccer long form writing?
May 4, 2014 4:12 AM   Subscribe

As part of the eternal quest to have interesting things to read on the train, I've been trying to find more sources of good long form writing on football (the Soccer variety for those who know it as such).

I'm aware of the likes of:

The Blizzard

...and obviously the likes of the BBC and the Guardian. What else should I be reading though?
posted by garius to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Most of what I know about the sport I learned from Zonal Marking
posted by Lame_username at 6:01 AM on May 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, part autobiography and part reflection on what it means to be a fan of something (in Hornby's case, Arsenal).
posted by meronym at 6:06 AM on May 4, 2014

Have you checked out Howler? Some of it might meet your needs.
posted by safetyfork at 6:11 AM on May 4, 2014

If you enjoy Zonal Marking, then you might also like Jonathan Wilson's book, Inverting the Pyramid. It moves decade-by-decade through the evolving world of football tactics.
posted by monkeymonkey at 6:51 AM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Among The Thugs is a pretty dated book, but a good look at hooligans/hooliganism if you're interested in that side of it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:47 AM on May 4, 2014

Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano.

This Love is Not for Cowards - Soccer in Cuidad Juarez by Robert Andrew Powell
posted by spinifex23 at 7:49 AM on May 4, 2014

Gary Armstrong and Richard Giulanotti; Sid Lowe Fear and Loathing in La Liga.
I think in The Blizzard you have the best already.
posted by librosegretti at 8:55 AM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I read a lot of books on football and football history, so here's a small list of books that I've read and have not been mentioned upthread:

Phil Ball's morbo is a great resource on the history of football in Spain, and goes into great detail on all the regional rivalries and differences that emerged after the Civil War.

Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European soccer by Jonathan Wilson. It has a bit of a travelogue style to it, which I like. The focus of the book is on the footballing countries of Eastern Europe after the end of Communism. There's also a great chapter on Yugoslavian football during and after the Balkan Wars (which I regard as the best thing that Wilson has ever written).

Brilliant Orange by David Winner. A well written book on Dutch football philosophies, it does not have much of a direct focus on the actual clubs and matches, instead it tries to connect 'Total Football' to the general Dutch lifestyles and social mores.

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymansci. This book is well-known and tries to apply a Freakonomics-style approach to soccer analysis and trends. I think it overstates it's case a bit on certain issues, but it is still a fairly good book.

Calcio by John Foot. A great book on the history of Italian football. Deals particularly well with Mussolini's involvement in the 30s; the Superga disaster of 1949 and the various scandals and match-fixing controversies that the Italian leagues are notorious for.

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football by David Goldblatt. This a an excellent reference resource for the history of the game (at least up to 2006 or so), but is also very readable, and is a book that I constantly refer to time and again. I think that it makes a good complement to the aforementioned Inverting the Pyramid.

I'm currently reading The Unforgiven: the story of Don Revie's Leeds United by Rob Bagchi and Paul Rodgerson, which is a short, succinct book on the 'Dirty Leeds' team and their notoriety, and looks into whether that notoriety was deserved or not.

If soccer-based fiction is of your interest, look into David Peace's two novels, The Damned United (about Brian Clough's 44 day spell at Leeds United in 1974; and Red or Dead which chronicles Bill Shankly's tenure as manager of Liverpool FC. Peace is known for employing a very repetitive style of prose writing which may not be your cup of tea.

I'm reluctant to list any biographies because in my opinion, most are not interesting unless the reader is predisposed towards the subject because of club or country affiliations, but I'd recommend Zlatan Ibrahimovic's biography because, well, Zlatan. :)

If there are particular topics that you like to find resources for, I can try to help.
posted by all the versus at 11:15 PM on May 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer.
posted by emd3737 at 11:32 PM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

May I suggest Road & Kingdom's football-focused series, The Far Post?
posted by WalterMitty at 12:29 PM on May 5, 2014

The Run of Play isn't updated any more but it's still one of my favourite things on the internet.

Agreed. And, more specifically, Brian Phillips' (whom you may know from Grantland) 95-part Pro Vercelli saga is one of my favorite things I've read anywhere, despite being about a video game.
posted by dersins at 5:44 PM on August 18, 2014

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