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Finn McCool's Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Rea
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this captivating debut, Belfast native Stephen Rea crafts a story of sportsmanship and strength built around an unusual pub soccer team in the heart of New Orleans. Set against the dark backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, this luminous and infinitely inviting memoir traces the affecting stories of Rea and his hilarious and dynamic friends and teammates. Comprised primarily of ex-pats over the age of 35, Finn McCool's Football Club boasts a dynamic mix of idiosyncratic personalities. From Macca, the team's Scottish coach and a hard-drinking ex-professional player, to its outspoken South African landscape gardener/striker Benji, each character comes vibrantly to life in Rea's fresh and frank prose. Hilarious moments and poignant reflections shine with equal intensity throughout this multifarious work, which captures the individual experiences of the Finn's players in the wake of Katrina. A literary memoir, soccer story, and tale of survival and resolve, this work is an indefatigable tribute to a city and its residents who determined to play on after their lives were all but washed away.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Given the growing number of books about American soccer fans trapped in a country that doesn’t value or even understand their sport, Rea’s take—that of a Northern Irishman trying to watch and play the beautiful game in New Orleans—adds an enjoyably different perspective. Dissatisfied with the lack of camaraderie at pickup games and desperate to find broadcasts of his beloved Chelsea, Rea breaks his vow to assimilate and starts hanging out with a bunch of other expatriates at a pub called Finn McCool’s. But just when their team is starting to gel, Hurricane Katrina blows everything to hell. Rea is an agreeable chronicler, and his blend of comedy, tragedy, and social observation moves briskly. The narrative arc isn’t entirely satisfying, and it can be hard to keep track of all the characters (many of them, oddly enough, named Stephen), but Rea’s thoughts on the pains and pleasures of globalism’s diaspora, and the horrors of Katrina and its aftermath, make worthwhile reading. The parts about soccer, however, may mean that the book’s best audience will be made of the usual suspects: those to whom “football” is never played on a “gridiron.” --Keir Graff


"Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools." --The Irish American Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 2381 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (January 27, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005BXQ7Q2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,228,060 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super book by a super man.... MUST READ!! April 2, 2009
I was in New Orleans and wanted to see Liverpool v AC Milan in the Champions League. I got an address for Finn McCools and decided to head over there.

I walked into the place and had a sip of my Harp and could hear a Belfast accent cheering on Chelsea to my left. Turned out to be Steven Rea and I found out all about him and his book. You couldn't meet a nicer person I had to come back at 7am to watch another game before I left.

The book is amazing it has everything in it and appeals to all audiences young, old, ex pats, locals, football fans and any sporting fan in general. It has some sad moments and some very laugh out loud moments (which make you fit-in well with the random crazy subway riders who talk to themselves).

All round fantastic book and fantastic fella who should be very proud of this accomplishment.

I look forward to the next installment!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Stephen Rea's account of his life in New Orleans, the happenings at Finn McCool's, and the impact of Katrina on the patrons of this fine pub is an absolutely enthralling--and humorous--read.

As a long-time fan and visitor of New Orleans--yet a recent convert to soccer fandom--Rea's book introduced me to a side of NOLA I had not seen, the life of ex-pats just looking to get their soccer fix...or those "odd" Americans who would get up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday to watch a game largely ignored by most of our countrymen.

Here's to raising a pint to Rea for sharing his story with us...and hopefully we can all enjoy that pint with him at Finn McCool's while watching (ugh) Chelsea!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Piece of Work March 26, 2009
I received Finn McCool's Wed and took it to work and was finished that evening. It's an amazing account of real people facing tragic situations that you can really relate to. If you're a football fan, you can relate even more to the characters in the book......if you're not it's an amazing accout of New Orleans. GET THIS BOOK!!! You will not regret it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Wegmann
There are some key important things you can get from this wonderful book: an incredible use of language, laughter, an understanding of the City of New Orleans and its citizens, what New Orleans went through and is going through during and since Katrina, and an inside view of an Irish footballer-in-exile's search for a decent game in the soccer desert that is the United States. There is a lot, and every chapter offers something. Alternately, there are portraits of real, incredibly relatable people; the happiness of finding camaraderie in a great pub that reminds you of a far away home; the love of a sport and one's home team; the sense of shared amazement all locals felt as the impossible (it's just another passing storm) became the all-to-real (a huge spiral cloud covering the whole Gulf); the exile away from our own island city; the return; the reaching out for word of friends' whereabouts; the recovery, struggle and sorting through all the debris of a flooded and dried out city; the piecing back together of lives and connections; and the dawning awareness you and your friends have survived and that others may not have. There is also something you might not expect here: in the midst of great detail about New Orleans and one man's travails in it and those of his friends and cohorts, there are some uproariously funny moments (in one the author finds himself getting roped into joining an upstart Honduran soccer team, led by a guy who continually and inaccurately refers to the author as "Ken" and anchored by a "mental" goalkeeper). Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friends for all seasons September 15, 2009
Anyone who has played for a football team will automatically relate to this book. The backdrop of the team coupled with the qirks of the individuals that make up that team are perfectly captured as the story is told. The devastation that was Katrina is well documented and the hardship that was the aftermath, both physically and mentally is vividly described. The sub-stories are interesting and expertly woven, interlaced with humor and observation. What plainly shines through is that despite the hardships being experienced by individuals there is a collective concern for all the other team mates and their safety illustrating the cohesive friendship that had been forged through the football team.
The entities of Finn McCool's pub and the football team are one and the same and the people involved are part of that landscape and a superb illustration of how the team collectively support one another and the bond this brings. Having the team re-assemble is an important point in the book, as is the Pheonix like resurrection of the pub itself.
Stephen Rea has an easy, conversational writing style that just flows and his love of football is obvious to the reader.
An extremely readable story and one that has a happy ending that continues to this very day and hopefully beyond.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read - Highly Recommend! March 30, 2009
Having lived through the Katrina experience in New Orleans, I can confirm that Stephen Rea gets it just right... from the minor inconveniences (no garbage collection, no mail delivery, no credit card services) to the major traumas (loss of home, loss of employment, loss of dear ones). Having moved from Northern Ireland only months before the storm, the author gives a unique perspective on this American disaster. Remarkably, however, this is no somber read. It is a humorous and loving study of a collection of colorful characters (hailing from New Orleans and from all around the world) who met pre-Katrina through a mutual love of soccer and became bound together post-Katrina as a community of survivors turned family.

As stated in other reviews, one need not have any knowledge of or passion for soccer to enjoy this book. Yet love of the game runs through the pages illuminating its universal appeal. As the one sport played and adored in every corner of the planet, we see its ability to connect people of different nationalities, ages, occupations and languages. After being introduced to the gang at Finn's through this book, you may find yourself wanting to know all the more about the Beautiful Game... and with World Cup a mere year away, the timing is perfect.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ex-pats, soccer, pub life, and tragedy
I read this book on the beach over a couple of days. It was over 85 degrees, I was sweating in the sun, yet I still got chills from the story. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. M. MCCOOL
5.0 out of 5 stars Great account of life during Katrina
Very well written and compelling account of life during Katrina. Interesting perspective from a group of ex-pats living in New Orleans. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Adam Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, Filled with Laughter, Love, Flooded Streets, and Goals!
I could not put it down...Wonderful book! Being from Southeast Louisiana, and now a New Orleans resident, I could perfectly grasp how well he captures the heartbreaking events of... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tierney
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner that leaves you wanting more.
Stephen Rea's book, Finn McCool's Football Club, is one of the best reads I have purchased this year. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tony Strong
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, authentic, heartwrenching
Could not put it down! It captured the sense of all expats grapling with foreign cultures in one of the most foreign places in the USA
Published 14 months ago by allegrazzurra
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More than Soccer and a Storm
Stephen Rea uses Katrina as a backdrop for a tale of the power of love and courage to defeat despair. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sayseye
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into the human response to misplacement and disaster
Through the perceptive eyes of foreign misfits, Mr. Rea captures the essence of the human struggle to overcome adversity and carry on cultural traditions.
Published 18 months ago by Dr. H
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Take on Hurricane Katrina
Having also survived Hurricane Katrina, I found Rea's view of post-Katrina New Orleans, taken from the slice of life perspective of a neighborhood bar and its denizens, to give a... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Richard S
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This was a great read. Once into the book you have to read till the end. Look forward to more titles by this author.
Published 19 months ago by Markmcgreg
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading!!!
An interesting way to re-direct your mind after the experience of Katrina. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I do recommend this book to all who enjoy putting things back together.
Published 19 months ago by demwiggns
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More About the Author

Stephen Rea is a freelance writer based out of New Orleans who has contributed to national and international newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for over twenty years. He has worked for England's Daily News and Western Daily Press in the features, sports, and entertainment departments. When he was only seventeen, the Sun daily newspaper chose him as their first-ever trainee reporter, and he covered a range of news stories, from the Gulf War and terrorist attacks in London to the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Rea attended Campbell College in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He studied journalism at the United Kingdom's National Council for the Training of Journalists before joining the Sun. After moving to New Orleans with his wife, Rea won a writing grant from the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in 2006.

After his move to New Orleans, Rea struggled to find an outlet for his love of soccer. He discovered an Irish bar in New Orleans's Mid-City area called Finn McCool's, an eccentric blend of locals and ex-pats. The men eventually formed a club team and joined a league--the perfect place for Rea to play soccer and express his love of the game. He wrote Finn McCool's Football Club while he was displaced to Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina, and the story follows not only Rea's struggles through that difficult period, but the rest of the team's as well.

Stephen Rea's eclectic life has led him to more than one hundred countries, all seven continents, and all fifty U.S. states. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he spent his childhood against the backdrop of bombings and shootings in that country during the seventies and eighties. At the age of sixteen, he went on tour with rock star Ozzy Osbourne and later traveled the world as his assistant road manager, contributing a chapter to Osbourne's official biography Diary of a Madman. In New Orleans, Rea served as the media relations officer for the Shell Shockers, the city's minor league soccer club. Rea lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans, Louisiana.


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