Saturday, March 03, 2007
World Soccer, I love you because...
On seeing that there’s a new World Soccer to be devoured, my wife generally abandons all hope of conversation for the evening in question.
In his autobiography, Les Murray refers to the eagerness with which he awaited the delivery of the magazine in his formative years, when it was his only good source of information on the international game. He also recounts his subsequent adventures with the eccentric Eric Batty, one of the publication’s most distinguished contributors. Les, incidentally, has contributed articles to the magazine himself.
Eric Batty regularly railed at the insularity of English football, and it is indeed the universal outlook of World Soccer – as opposed to the parochialism of so many football publications, in England and elsewhere – that makes it so special. I always enjoy the maudlin humour and offhand nostalgia of When Saturday Comes, but its centre of gravity is firmly placed in the British Isles. Although World Soccer unashamedly makes Europe the centre of its attention, the magazine always contains news and analysis from everywhere, and never treats any regions of the footballing realm with disdain.
The writing is, almost without exception, first-rate, and the analysis is better. Significantly, many of the contributors from particular regions – notably Brian Homewood, Mark Gleeson, Eric Weil and Paul Gardner – have been reporting on the game in their neck of the woods for a very long time, and know the issues in the domestic game inside out. Those with a more roving brief, such as the endlessly informative Keir Radnedge, draw on a vast reservoir of experience.
I received the March issue in the mail yesterday, and, typically, got through it in a single evening. Just a sample of the contents:
- A cutting piece on the Beckham transfer by the always controversial Paul Gardner; memorably, the column begins “This deal, this Beckham deal. This absurd, overpriced, ridiculous deal to bring David and his family to America…”
- A grim report on the continuing on-field and off-field problems at Real Madrid, by the entertaining Sid Lowe;
- An in-depth look at the growth of the game in Paraguay, and an account of the growing schism in their domestic ranks. All thanks to WS’s jack-of-all-South-American-trades, Tim Vickery;
- An analysis of the implications of Michel Platini’s election as UEFA president, by who else but Keir Radnedge. Plus a nostalgic look at Platini’s playing days, by who else but Brian Glanville;
- A strong attack on FIFA over the video technology issue – Paul Gardner at it again;
- A detailed resume of the recent fan violence in Italy and the subsequent brief suspension of football in the country, again thanks to Keir Radnedge.
And, of course, plenty more.
Roll on April.
Meaning I'm almost single mindedly fixated on all things Aussie, with interest in overseas goings-on now being largely limited to either Liverpool, or the fortunes of home grown compatriots abroard.
I routinely switch off TWG once the Aussie part is finished, and I find myself with spare time once 8:10 comes around during Total Football too, such is my general malaise for anything outside the rather slim spectrum of Aussie football. A negative side effect of the last few years'happenings in the game here I suppose.
Yes, I need Vorld Sokkah. I need it to help me swim out of this ocean of ignorant bliss before I drown.
Anything on Oz football in it?
I think I need to subscribe too.
There's always a small dispatch from Oz, occasionally a slightly longer piece. The last in-depth piece on Oz football in WS was penned by Our Les, I believe.
...hi mike, I found Eric in an op shop and wrote a piece on what seemed a serendipidous find - the inside cover has an ad for other books by the same publisher, among which is ...Brian Gladwell. Is the guy immortal?...
Ha, yeah, saw your review of Batty's book on tactics. I got the other one (on defensive play) out from the library a while ago, and gave up on it after a couple of chapters, it was just so dense and theoretical it put me off.
Brian Glanville is the name of the other guy, by the way. He is getting on a bit (73 now, I think), but still writes about the game regularly. Meeting and chatting with him in Germany was one of the absolute highlights of my WC jaunt.