In the throes of becoming jaded and cynical about the American sportswriting scene, Culpepper, a London-based Los Angeles Times journalist covering European sporting events, writes about the internationally known Premiership soccer league and its overzealous fans. The rough-and tumble British soccer sport quickly captivates Culpepper, who wrote on American sports for 15 years, as he learns the rivalries between the fans and teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Portsmouth. A humorist of sorts, he can't help making snide comparisons between the rowdy, cheering British fans and their more somber American brethren, while touting the emotional high of regional pride over big team profits. He falls under the spell of the struggling Portsmouth squad, realizing that the die-hard fans live and die with the fortunes of their players and teams, describing vivid action scenes as thrilling as any in American hockey or football. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* Veteran sportswriter Culpepper was sick and tired of his job. The world of sports was corrupt. Athletes had nothing to say. Sportswriters weren’t allowed to cheer—but who wanted to? He moved to London, the center of what is arguably the planet’s most popular pastime, Premier League soccer, where he bought tickets, sat with the fans, and learned to cheer again. “It was like childhood,” he writes, “with beer.” Pulling for scrappy Portsmouth, he found himself sharing long-suffering fans’ ecstasy at the team’s best season ever. There’s a long tradition of Americans trying to understand soccer, and Culpepper’s effort ranks among the best. Rather than explaining the rules, he discusses what makes the sport exciting, offering the relegation system (the worst teams are demoted while the best are promoted) as evidence of a more enlightened society. Even better are his explorations of fan psychology—Why do we attach our self-worth to the efforts of highly paid mercenaries?—and his own search for a new community raises another pertinent question: Can you really choose your team? Culpepper occasionally overdoes the clueless-American act, and the deletion of expletives is unduly prim, but this lighthearted look at English soccer in the post-hooligan era is a necessary update to Bill Buford’s landmark Among the Thugs (1992). --Keir GraffSee all Editorial Reviews
This was a fun book, giving a fan of American sport a tour of a world of sport different in so many interesting and unexpected ways.Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
Couldn't get through the first two chapters. One continuous whine. Culpepper's realization that United States sports is over-commercialized and superficial is either mawkishly... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jacob M. Spencer
Read "Up Pompey" instead, it is the UK version of the same book and not dumbed down for Americans fans.Published 23 months ago by JonFoden
A great place to start if you are a budding soccer fan. The emotion and excitement of first discovering the wonderful world of club soccer is accurately captured. Read morePublished on February 13, 2013 by Alex McCoy
This is not a serious soccer guru's look at the English Premier League, nor is it a critical comparision between American and European sports. Read morePublished on July 16, 2012 by Lawrence Brewer
If I were to liken Culpepper's approach to any other author it would have to be Bill Bryson - both Americans, both hugely talented writers and both absolutely fascinated with... Read morePublished on February 25, 2012 by Amazon Customer
I admit up front that I only read a couple of pages from the book.
My real purpose here is to comment that what I saw of his writing in the local newspaper here in... Read more
I thought this would read like yet another of those "follow the team for a season" books that the UK churns out over and over. Read morePublished on November 23, 2011 by Brian Maitland
A great read if you are new to watching the game and don't qite 'get it'.
This American sports writer decides to take on and immerse himself in the fanatical social culture of... Read more