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Because It’s Saturday By Gavin Bell

Release date: 20th August, 2020
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: 12.99
Our Price: 10.99
You Save: 2 (15%)
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According to several estimates, some two-thirds of people are not over-keen on returning to work having grown used to working from home. It could be argued that a similar attitude exists among football fans, few of whom are licking their lips in anticipation as a new season trundles into view.

The 2019-20 campaign has only just finished and with matches scheduled to be played in empty, soulless stadia for the foreseeable future, many of professional football’s inherent attractions have been compromised. Indeed, it might not be too long before armies of fans find another means of filling their Saturday afternoons.

If you’re wavering, you must read Because It’s Saturday, Gavin Bell’s meandering collection of tales from eight different lower league clubs collected during the 2017-18 season.

Clubs such as Grimsby, Blackpool and Forest Green Rovers rarely feature as stars of modern sporting literature, but the author makes you want to abandon any association you may have with a so-called ‘big’ club and head to watch your local League Two side instead.

Bell opens at Accrington Stanley with the build-up to a duel against Cheltenham Town. He wanders around, observantly painting a lucid picture of a town which, while economically challenged, loves it football club. It’s a club where manager and players are approachable, giving their time to local community initiatives because they want to, not because they’re told to.

Nor is Bell a prima donna. Following a cheery Mexican meal in Plymouth, where he intends watching the Pilgrims play Wigan, he pops into the Co-Op “for a packet of biscuits to have in bed with a cup of tea” while watching Match of the Day. Very rock n’ roll.

Chairman of the Argyle supporter’s club, Keith Bulley, reminds Bell of the time Plymouth beat Brazilian aces Santos (featuring Pelé) 3-2 in a friendly in front of 37,639 Home Park supporters, though less than 40 years later, the club was penniless. It survived, but only just. Today, its youth squad enjoys a budget of £500,000; Manchester City’s youth academy’s budget is 56 times higher.

Bell travels to Grimsby Town, home of the blow-up fish (Harry Haddock), to Blackpool, a once proud club wracked with acrimony. Fortunately, there was no such bad blood at Forest Green Rovers, nor Cambridge United, Berwick Rovers, or Queens Park where fans show their loyalty week in, week out despite (or perhaps because of) the apparent appeal of football’s top flight.

Because It’s Saturday is an inspirational read which, if you’re a ‘big’ club supporter, will make you examine football in a different way.

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