Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that I had completely finished reading Fever Pitch, had even given it a bit of thought over the past two weeks, and only just realised, two minutes ago, that a film I had since when I was in high school…was based on this book.

In my defence, it was called The Perfect Catch and was centred around baseball. Oh, when things are Americanised and the rest of the world has no idea.

Nick Hornby‘s 1992 autobiography (of sorts), Fever Pitch, follows the life he has had as a football (or to Aussies, soccer) nut. Since he was a young boy, and his dad needed to find something they could bond over, Nick has been a mad Arsenal fan. Despite the losses, the disappointments, the football tragedies (both real and exaggerated) and the constant criticism of everyone else in the league, Nick has had a love for the sport, and for his team. While it means that he has had to decline weddings, important birthday parties, and perhaps even a career as a sportswriter, Nick swears by his team…even when they seem to continually lose.

While I have seen the film Bend It Like Beckham multiple times, and though I do understand how the offside rule works, to say I am a soccer fan would be akin to saying I know how to change a type…a lie I would only use in dire situations. In saying that, I resonated many a time with Nick Hornby as he expunged his grief, love and memories over his football team.

Here in Australia we have AFL, which for anyone who has not grown up around it, essentially looks like a shit version of football concocted by those who enjoy having a laugh. Seriously, the ball isn’t even round. Just like Nick, my parents separated when I was quite young, and I think my dad used sport as a way to bond with his two daughters. He picked tennis and football. While tennis is something I’m still a big fan to this day, it is football that has stayed with me for life…largely because I’m so scarred.

See, my dad, just like Nick’s dad, goes for a team that doesn’t win. Richmond. Oooh, they did once, or so I’m told. And while they made the finals this year, after a record-breaking nine games in a row (which actually occurred while I was reading this), they fell dismally during finals, getting completely thrashed by another team. This is only the third finals they’ve made in 17 years.

So, in a way, I could relate to Nick. Sport is frustrating, painful, agonising…but oh, isn’t it good when you win? Particularly if you go for a team that doesn’t actually win all that often? You betcha. And while I may not be the level of mad that Nick Hornby is (can you imagine not going to a wedding for a football match?) I could see why he went a bit bonkers over it. Especially when you threw in the atmosphere, habit, locals and, of course, nostalgia over time spent there with his dad.

This is the first non-fiction book I’ve read by Nick Hornby, but during my first year of uni I went on a bit of a Hornby spree and read most of his fiction stuff. While there are parallelisms between his novels and Fever Pitch (of which I refer to High Fidelity and the also obsessive view on music and records), what stands out most is his strong, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Nick Hornby is your classic example of dry English wit, the type of humour that invokes short bursts of laughter…even if you’re simply reading it from a page.

A 300 hundred page autobiography on a subject that I don’t know that much about could have easily been overwhelming and boring. Fever Pitch was anything but. With his usual charm, ease and cheeky sense of humour that is incredibly spot on, Nick Hornby shows the funnier side of an obsession.

Plus, it was far better than the movie. Sorry Jimmy Fallon.

 

Have you read Fever Pitch? Have you seen The Perfect Catch? Let me know!

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