Fever Pitch: 20 Years On ⋆ An Old International

Fever Pitch: 20 Years On

Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is widely considered to mark the beginning of a new football writing and how people regard football and how they talk about it. A short review.

In the Beginning there was Fever Pitch

It has become common sense that Hornby’s seminal work has initiated a new wave of football writing. In one sense this is true: never before and hardly (never?) ever after has there been a description of football fandom of such class and style. The first lines:

I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.

are classic text nowadays and certainly have been validated by millions of football fans across the globe. In the beginning there was Fever Pitch? Yes and No.

Yes, because in its wake the football interested public have witnessed a flood of literature about football. Players, managers, coaches, agents, hooligans all have found a market to publish their thoughts on football. Newspaper coverage of football increased significantly with every little bit of gossip being reported and widely discussed. Particularly in England, football appeared to be hip in the early 1990s.

Yes, because Hornby described football fandom as a human condition and football fans as human beings, which of course they are. Therefore, he helped to alter the image of football supporters as animals as has been the case not just in England, but most openly there. Thus, he gave the most eloquent answer to Thatcher’s statement that ‘there is no such thing as society.’ Hornby placed his main character at the centre of society: he went to university and took a job as teacher afterwards but is also an ordinary football fan, who loves Arsenal. To underline this further, the French anthropologist Christian Bromberger said that

football is a wonderful and precious gift to anthropologists. Sometimes I feel, the game has been invented only for the anthropologists!

In summary, football has always been a part of as well as a mirror for society. It allows to draw conclusions about almost everything that concerns mankind. It has become th object of academic interest away from mere re-calling the events of the matches but its place in society

However, there has to be a NO to that question, too. No, because the new football writing kicked off earlier. At least since 1985 there was a strong development among football fans in England

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