The Game of Our Lives A book on British soccer culture


Reviewed by Bob Koep

When you are halfway through the newly released soccer blockbuster by English author David Goldberg, you begin to realize that soccer, or better still, the Premier League, is probably the biggest industry in England, or the UK for that matter.
What was once a working class pastime has evolved into a booming industry where billions are moved every year and there seems to be no end to it.
It seems the British lifestyle revolves around the Premier League and one wonder where all the money is coming from. In fact, the premier League has spread the message throughout the world  and now collects more revenue from abroad in addition to the richest domestic TV deal anywhere.
In merely 25 years soccer has moved from “ a slum game played by slum people in slum stadiums to a booming entertainment industry“ outstripping the Real Estate market and other major industries in the country.
Everybody has jumped into the game, from Russian oligarchs to Arabian sheiks to American billionaires and it seems growth will never stop and the money will come in faster and faster year after year.
If you have a knack for financial matters this story is mind boggling. Goldberg explains where the billions come from and where they go and how a handful of clubs, maybe six or seven, are dominating the entire show and that the days where an also run, such as Blackburn in 1995, could win the league are over.
Goldberg analyses the entire spectrum of British soccer culture, not only things that are related to the Premier League.
He has stories on a full range of smaller clubs, known to most fans whether they be in higher leagues or occupying the very lower ranks in the boondocks.
The infighting, the riots, the insults, the racism,  the buying and selling, and the self destruction of clubs by people with egos and/or a lot of money.
Goldberg touches the whole range of soccer culture in England, or English culture in soccer if you wish. He knows  how much or how little fast food is available outside stadiums what the average age is of season ticket holders, where the beer can be bought and drunk and the function of a peacock wing (that is a player on the field, not something you fast fry and eat).
Nothing is left untouched and there are numerous side stories that tell you everything you’d like to know about life in Britain and soccer in particular.
Only problem for the England fans is the fact more than 60 percent of players in the Premiership are overseas imports and, consequently, the fortunes of England as a world power are waning.
Well you can’t have both but you can certainly spend a few hours reading some of the fascinating stories Goldberg pulls out of his hat.

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