Broadcaster, comedian and Crystal Palace fan Kevin Day provides a light-hearted and entertaining tour around the 92 football clubs and a few who have now dropped out.
The format for each club is as follows: a couple of quotes from disparate characters such as comedians, broadcasters or famous footballers; a couple of pages about the history of the club in question; some anecdotes; a little about the successes and failures of said club; plus a few bullet points about ‘Why You Shouldn’t Support Them.’
The book could have been just a reference guide for visiting away grounds but Day is more concerned with providing an entertaining read and steers away from any definitive overview while providing his own personal take on each club.
I found Day’s humour amusing but some readers may not find it to their liking. Here’s his bullet points on ‘Why You Shouldn’t Support Barnsley’ to help you decide.
- Yeah, Yorkshire, we get it. Your badge has got a bloke on it wearing a flat cap, FFS.
- They are friendly folk, but try asking for a half-pint in a Barnsley pub and see where it gets you.
- The whole settling for the Championship thing. Like a couple who married too early but can’t be arsed to get divorced because they’ll argue about who gets the dog.
Despite the light-heartedness he does make some serious points, for example when discussing the Bradford City fire. “…Like you, I love football nostalgia. I will discuss old games, old players, old kits, old TV shows and old dogs on the pitch with great delight. But one thing we should always remember is that for all the exuberant joy of football, it could also be tragically shit.”
He also unearths some interesting facts, for example Newport County spending several years exiled in England and on what their first Chairman called ‘ a magical mystery tour of the Cotswolds.’ He discovers that the first black English football manager was Tony Collins at Rochdale who took them to the first League Cup Final in 1961.
One of the things that strikes you while reading the book is that so many football clubs have had fairly mundane existences with no major trophies, and few promotions or significant events in their histories.
He often hits the nail on the head, for example when he succinctly sums up Milton Keynes Dons. “It must be difficult being a fan of MK Dons. They are nobody’s second team and they are a story that should never have been allowed to happen.”
Almost inevitably the longest chapter is about Crystal Palace and he does spend a bit too much time discussing Palace in the other chapters as well, but I suppose this is nit-picking and overall this is an enjoyable, amusing and sometimes illuminating stroll around the 92 clubs and beyond.
Who Are Ya? 92 football clubs and why you shouldn’t support them by Kevin Day. Published by Bloomsbury. Price £14.99.
This review first appeared in the December/January 2020/21 edition of Late Tackle magazine.