Book Review: Kicking off in North Korea by Tim Hartley

Another night shift read, and one of those books that makes my feet itch as Tim Hartley writes a series of remembrances and snapshots from his travels.

The title is a reference to a football match watched in North Korea and the sport is a recurring theme as Hartley catches matches all over the world.

Hartley writes in am amiable, no frills style discussing the places he goes and people he meets. Aside from a touristy trip to Mexico, Hartley usually goes off the beaten path and so glimpses the everyday lives of people in places like Palestine, a favela in Brazil and a grim orphanage in Baku.

He reflects on the problems different cultures face in the face of globalisation or intolerant regimes, of discovering a more rounded view of peoples and places beyond the headlines.

It’s an interesting read and the scope ensures that he never repeats himself. It’s low im drama but has plenty to keep readers engaged. Hartley’s trips are warmly recounted, and he shows the hardened travellers’ slightly masochistic joy in difficulties and roughing it a bit.

A lot of the trips are completed with family or friends, making these rather personal recollections. And Hartley reflects on the way football is changing, from Clapton’s left wing revolution to Barcelona’s football as tourism. He explores historic rivalries and the double edged of having a wealthy owner take over a club, as evidenced by his own club, Cardiff switching kit colour, and his son’s disillusionment with the club.

A nice, easy and amiable read that offers snapshots of the world and the beautiful game.

Verdict: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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