Book Review: Far From The Massive Crowds by Mark Cowan

I don’t blame people who get disillusioned with professional football. It’s a world of obscenely paid individuals who live in a different world to the fans. For fans it’s hard that players don’t exhibit the same love and loyalty for the club they do, forgetting that while for us in the stands football is a passion, that to those on the field it’s their job. And most of us would be all to ready to leave our jobs for more money, prestige and glory.
For those who grow tired of the disconnect with the players, or the feeling their club appreciates their wallet more than themselves, there is another option- lower and non-league football.
This is the world this takes place in as Cowan, writes the story of a season spent following his local team Guisborough Town in the second tier of the Northern league.
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Luckily the book captures a fairly successful season as Guisborough get involved in a promotion race and a cup run. Every game is covered with a brief entry, and Cowan discusses not only the action on the pitch but the off field stories.
Several teams are facing difficulties with money, players or grounds. Cowan is even handed in his writing, voicing sympathy for the other clubs and wishing them all well. There’s no malice anywhere in the book and Cowan is even fair in discussing the matches, acknowledging errors and grateful when luck plays a part.
His writing is simple and quick to read, and very few frills, although he does have a knack for observation and good humour, and there are lots of jokes and puns along the way.
It’s a quick, charming read and fun. The highs, lows and the obsession will be familiar to all sports fans, regardless of the level they play at, but few would be as gracious or fair as Cowan is.
Verdict: A charming and involving story of the lower levels of football. Cowan is a funny and observant guide to the league and his love of the club is always evident but never clouds his judgement. It captures the life of a fan and the atmosphere of the grounds. 7/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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