I heard Daniel Gray read from his book Saturday, 3pm at Waterstones in Edinburgh’s Princes Street at an event last Christmas. His passion for football really came across strongly and his writing was so poetic. Not, perhaps, what you might expect from a book of essays about football. I have been reading the book recently as a bit homework (all will be revealed soon!) and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The book consists of 50 short essays about various aspects of football from the first game of the season to the last, the joy of spotting a fellow supporter somewhere unexpected, the magic of floodlights and of course, as is almost inevitable in Britain, watching the game in bad weather.
Among my favourites was ‘Going with Dad’ which movingly suggests that fathers and sons attending matches together is a way of silently expressing their love for each other. ‘My Daughter Listening at the Window’ is one which really struck a chord with me. Like the author, I lived within earshot of Easter Road, Hibernian Football Club’s home ground. Like his daughter, my Saturdays were punctuated with the sounds of cheers and groans from the fans as I tried to work out whether Hibs were winning or losing, whether the crowd was disagreeing with the ref and who had scored a goal.
You might think that you don’t like football, but reading this book may just make you see there is still something glorious about the game. Daniel Gray’s writing is eloquent and graceful. This is a little gem of a book which is perfect for dipping in and out of. He has a new book out now called Scribbles in the Margin: 50 Eternal Delights of Books. As a book lover how can I resist getting myself a copy? I am sure it will be a love letter to books as much as Saturday, 3pm was a love letter to football.
Saturday, 3pm was published by Bloomsbury in October 2016 . You can buy or order a copy at good bookshops or order a copy online here.
From the back of the book
Overpaid players. Sunday lunchtime kick-offs. Absurd ticket prices. Non-black boots. Football’s menu of ills is long. Where has the joy gone? Why do we bother? Saturday, 3pm offers a glorious antidote. It is here to remind you that football can still sing to your heart. Warm, heartfelt and witty, here are fifty short essays of prose poetry dedicated to what is good in the game. These are not wallowing nostalgia; they are things that remain sweet and right: seeing a ground from the train, brackets on vidiprinters, ball hitting bar, Jimmy Armfields voice, listening to the results in a traffic jam, football towns and autograph-hunters. This is fan culture at its finest, words to transport you somewhere else and identify with, words to hide away in a pub and luxuriate in. Saturday, 3pm is a book of love letters to football and a clarion call, helping us find the romance in the game all over again.