23 Sweet FAs – Andy Sloan

13 Oct

51LY55fxBkL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_A student joke became reality when Andy Sloan embarked with his football table on a footballing odyssey which would see him shaking hands with the Iranian national team and sitting down for the World Cup final with footballing legend Pele.

Having drawn a route on a world map and written to the football associations of the 23 countries through which the line of travel passed, Andy set out with the intention of getting the table onto the pitches of the great stadiums of each country and interacting with the local people through the common currency of football.

Bursting with enthusiasm, football histories and fascinating trivia 23 Sweet FAs proves that cultural differences is no barrier when it comes to the beautiful game.

I know I recently wrote a football/travel book review but I felt the need to add another so quickly as it felt like a breath of fresh air, not only for celebrating the game but also because it has a certain zest for life which is infectious and makes the book highly readable and thoroughly enjoyable.

Right from page one, Sloan’s passion for football shines through, his madcap adventure, which he quantifies as the inherent Britishness of doing something adventurous for absolutely no reason reinforces the idea that through the shared love of the global game, it can transcend not only language differences but also cultural barriers.  Over and over again through the pages there is a sense of togetherness, of a local language and for a global family.  That may sound a little glib but beyond the differences in politics and religion and so forth, all it takes is a simple set of rules and a round ball to encourage togetherness.

The innocence of the idea tp walk into the national HQ’s of football associations and play a game on the table, together with the responses, or lack thereof from the FAs really does underline how distant the sport has become from the fans that support it, especially in Europe, it’s a strange setup, keeping the loyal masses away from a shared love. The table is an attempt to cut through the bureaucracy and seriousness (some may argue that that is professionalism) and bring the sport back to those who just love the entertainment factor in its pure form.

The lighthearted nature of the trip, coupled with plenty of those awkward moments the reader loves the author to suffer, makes for a pacy and varied book, its three hundred pages take in twenty-six countries and shows off a wonderfully rich combination of national cultures both on and off the field.  Players and staff from different countries mingle to allow the sport to endlessly evolve, which is a reflection on what happens around us everyday and makes the world an irresistable mixture of ideas and philosophies.

A supporters optimism is often misguided but is on occasion rewarded, the table helps to bring smiles despite language difficulties, it is an appeal to kinship, a shared love, for making friends and reminds us that just by taking that leap the author brings an element of fairytale back to an increasingly distant sport.  I really got involved with the travellers and enjoyed all the anecdotes and adventures and sadly the book was over all too quickly but that will happen when the reader is enjoying one’s self.

If I was to find a moral in this tale (and I do try) then it would definitely be, that it shows what believing in yourself and a dream, no matter how madcap can do.  It also underlines – and I would wholeheartedly agree with this – that opportunities can and do turn up at the least expected times and in the most random manner.  The worst people can say is no to you but If you don’t ask the question because you may never know what you could be missing out on.

Just one more insight before I go, it is fascinating to know that in a French vote of the worst ever German, Hitler came second (by one vote) to Harald Schumacher who committed that criminal foul on Patrice Battiston in the ’82 World Cup.  Sport it seems conquers all.



Posted by on 13/10/2015 in Sport, Travel


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

32 responses to “23 Sweet FAs – Andy Sloan

  1. Resa

    13/10/2015 at 17:43

    Football table? You mean with the little guys on rods…. old fashioned game?
    It sounds like a decent book, and I’m getting a feeling there are many more books written about sports.


    • Ste J

      13/10/2015 at 18:10

      It’s not an old fashioned game, it’s a classic! Hehe. I seem to have been getting into football in a big way again recently, they are easy reads though and a welcome change from the heavier books that tend to cross my path. A whole new world seems to be opening up.


  2. renxkyoko

    13/10/2015 at 21:50

    Ah ! Sports …… you lost me. I do watch basketball ( my city has an NBA team , after all….. love your own ) ….. and I used to watch tennis. Used to.


    • Ste J

      14/10/2015 at 15:23

      I fear I lose a lot of people especially with the football topic which I do try and hold back. However the quest is more than just football, it’s about life which makes it so much richer. I haven’t watched much Basketball, the end to end drama is too much for somebody who has watched cricket lol.


  3. shadowoperator

    13/10/2015 at 22:03

    While I’m sorry that I know absolutely nothing much about most sports, I have watched tennis and I do like baseball, and occasionally I pass by a game of soccer on the tube. It’s great to see you so enthusiastic, though. Keep your spirits high for anything you truly enjoy, that’s my motto.


    • Ste J

      14/10/2015 at 15:26

      I do try to reign in the sports reviews and put them on only occasionally but this book felt more life affirming than the usual passion for the game type book. Get ready for some freestyle Ste J original poetry (or prose, haven’t decided yet) coming soon.


  4. Liz Dexter

    14/10/2015 at 11:19

    I love “quest” books, this sounds like a good one, although I am very much not into football!


    • Ste J

      14/10/2015 at 15:20

      Although it does name check a few players. The majority of it can be read without much prior knowledge and it becomes more about the journey than the sport itself. Having said that it isn’t impenetrable for the non sporting fan and who knows it may turn you!


      • Liz Dexter

        15/10/2015 at 08:55

        I think I’m too old to be turned (cricket all the way for me, and athletics) but I will def pick it up if I see it. I’ve read Fever Pitch, after all, and much of that WAS incomprehensible!


        • Ste J

          15/10/2015 at 16:40

          I have never understood why Fever Pitch is regarded as such a classic in sporting circles, I read it years ago and it was alright but didn’t have much of an impact on me. There is a bit of cricket in this book handily enough so that may make it worth a look and then there is the quote on the back of the book from David Gower ‘I couldn’t give a monkeys about football’.


  5. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie

    14/10/2015 at 17:23

    You’ve intrigued me with your words…I do like to watch sports and love a good book about a “quest”…so I might just give this one a try. 🙂


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 16:37

      I think that’s what makes travel literature so readable, the story of a person, their quest to explore and find out. it’s that that interests me more than the places visited. I like the relentless optimism and the sheer epic and crazy ideas that these lads attempt, it gives us all hope that our insane ideas could be pulled off.


  6. Jilanne Hoffmann

    14/10/2015 at 17:35

    A “no” will never kill you, unless it’s saying “no” to going after your dream.


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 16:19

      I find selective hearing to be handy in such circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sarah

    14/10/2015 at 19:36

    I have to get my hands on this book! I love the crazy idea and the wider more serious concept behind it. That will be right at the top of my xmas list so ta for the heads up! 🙂


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 16:20

      You’ll read it in a day or two as well, it’s really well written and gets into some good footballing backwaters and takes in a few non sporting things as well for variety, also Garth Crooks is mentioned so it really is the gift that keeps on giving.


  8. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    14/10/2015 at 20:27

    “common currency of football”- true that. In my country, I’ve seen football fanatics…madness that can’t be compared with anything! Sounds like a different kind of book…:-)


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 16:27

      I am intrigued to see if both of the leagues will merge into one, I have been following the football over your way for a while now and it certainly is fascinating to watch it grow as the US, Japan and Australia have. We can be a barmy lot when the passion and pride takes over.


  9. Letizia

    14/10/2015 at 21:16

    What a fascinating premise for a journey and a book! We had our cellar cleaned up and finished to look like a real room last year and besides the big tv and the laundry room (the latter which made me insanely happy) there is an unaccounted for space which I’ve always thought would be perfect for a footie table. But I know it would be used twice and then just sit there gathering dust….


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 17:11

      I like laundry rooms too, I was possibly thinking of a travel book in which I go round to people’s houses and wash my clothes, whilst having a chat with them. I could chronicle the history of laundry and things, what do you think, worth a shot? The football table can always be used as a way to settle arguments, a drinking game or a chance to recreate all those famous goals…that Gibraltar concede.


  10. clarepooley33

    14/10/2015 at 23:33

    I had to laugh at that French vote – poor old Schumacher – worse than Hitler! Though I’m not a sport watcher in general, I do, as I’ve mentioned before, watch footie with my husband and enjoy listening to the commentary. This is another book I might enjoy because of the enthusiasm of the writer.


    • Ste J

      15/10/2015 at 16:57

      It was a shocking tackle and to then be awarded a goal kick as well! That French team really were something else as well. although the passion shines through it never becomes impenetrable at all, having said that, I know my stuff on world football but he always mentions who is who so you know what they do in football so the reader is never in any doubt about things. The statistics come regularly as well, so even a complete novice gets some idea of how good teams are and so forth.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. macjam47

    16/10/2015 at 02:53

    Okay Ste J, let’s get one thing straight. Football is played with an oval ball and the players wear helmets and padding. Soccer is played with a round ball of various designs, most common are those with hexagons. Soccer players wear shorts and shin guards. My sons and my husband have played both. I played football with my brothers and the guys in the neighborhood when they were short a player, and if my dad wasn’t home. Back then, soccer was unheard of in our schools. Either way, they are both lots of fun to play and to watch. Now, what is football? 🙂


    • Ste J

      16/10/2015 at 18:54

      Now this argument could get heated lol, in WA I had everybody saying American football because of my love for the original game played primarily with the foot. Now its a habit and I believe they are still treated to funny looks for saying American football. I fear we shall have to agree to disagree on such a divisive topic hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Bumba

    20/10/2015 at 23:42

    Wonderful post. The moral is also that sports and sportsmanship are beautiful. And truth is beauty and beauty truth and…


    • Ste J

      21/10/2015 at 08:20

      and…it’s also a morality tale, this beating heart of the world’s leisure time and so on and so forth.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. RoSy

    23/10/2015 at 20:27

    There you go with football again… LOL
    It’s all good SteJ – It’s all good. 😀


    • Ste J

      23/10/2015 at 20:40

      I think with most things, there is usually something else going on that people can connect with, that and I do like to try and turn you all into fans hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • RoSy

        26/10/2015 at 00:30

        If ever in your hood – I’ll def catch a game with you & your crew. A live game with true fans is sure to make a difference in a first experience of watching a game.


        • Ste J

          27/10/2015 at 16:12

          It certainly does, this year we are fourth, albeit in what is confusingly called league 2 but is in reality the fourth division so perhaps there is hope of you actually being entertained…a rare site around these parts.

          Liked by 1 person


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