The Truth is Revealed: ‘Family, Life, Death and Football’

Sometimes you find yourself standing on the terraces or sitting in a stadium thinking ‘this game hasn’t changed much’, but when you snap back in to reality, away from on-pitch activities, you realise it has. Everything has changed about a game that used to reflect the working-class communities of this country; not so long ago football had a different meaning to the glitz, glamour and mega-bucks image that the upper echelons of the game portray today.

As the whole fabric of football has started to reweave, you increasingly find yourself questioning whether some players have forgotten the reason why they started to play the beautiful game in the first place. Why they fell in love with the sport, the excitement they felt for something that was so pure and enjoyable. We all start as just a kid chasing a ball around a pitch or kicking a tennis ball around a playground, totally at one, our view of the game was undiluted, it was just about a ball,  at that age no one played for the hope of a career and flashy lifestyle – now football seems to be more about the WAGS to riches lives of Premier League stars than anything else.

Do the pro’s now play for the shirt on their chest, the history of the club and those supporters that cheer from the sidelines who would give anything just to step on that hallowed turf and play, even if just for one second? With the actions of some players, both on and off the pitch every week, it is easy to presume they don’t. Some footballers seem to be more concerned with the lifestyle than they do the sport. It is all about the expensive cars, clothes, image and how big your watch is, rather than about being a pro who keeps his head down so fans don’t get a chance to resent them when times are as tough as these.

This is not to say the fans haven’t changed also, all of football has evolved, but that isn’t always a positive. Us fans have become information hungry in a new digital age where we have the access to endless data at the touch of a button. Many fans seem to thrive on the real life soap opera’s being created daily by the semi-true stories that circulate the football sphere.

It is ironic that in such an age we are detached from the sport we love and kept at arm’s length from the truth, despite the untold resources at our disposal. We cannot get near those Premier League stars that a vast majority of the world idolises, the closest we get to an undiluted view of real football is by reading Joey Barton’s spouting’s on Twitter and thats saying something. But not all of football is so guarded.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of real football, the spit and sawdust type, where fans stand on uncovered terraces on a cold and wet Tuesday night in the middle of nowhere. Where clubs, like we have just seen with Darlington, teeter on the edge of existence and have to fight for their survival off the pitch, let alone on it. Where the heroes you worship on the pitch do not seem too dissimilar to yourself, everyday working people, who have to work hard to earn a living, win contracts to pay the bills and support a family. Some players are as vulnerable as you and I…they could also lose their livelihood at the drop of a hat, to that we can relate.

As I sat down and read Michael Calvin’s book ‘Family Life, Death and Football’ I was reminded that some of football is closer to reality than we think.

It was a refreshing feeling to fill my lungs with the nostalgia of the way football used to make me feel and how it used to be. Reading ‘Family’ was like permanently smelling the aroma of deep heat in your nostrils, there is no other smell that reminds you of just football, not the circus that exists around it.

‘Family’ takes you on a real tour of the beautiful game from the behind the scenes of one of football’s most real, honest and passionate clubs, Millwall. More importantly, finally we get a slice of the truth. It is amazing to read everything us fans never get to see behind the wall of mystery; the managers perspective on his players, their personalities, attributes and mentality, down to what manager Kenny Jackett says in his half time team talks.

How the players exist in modern-day football, how they view their careers and the pressures they feel to pay the mortgage, keep the Mrs happy and feed the kids. The relationship a chairman and his board members have with their club, what they do, decision making, how they think. Real fans journeys and the relationship they have with their club – they are not made to feel like just another digit on a balance sheet.

In part, this book restored my faith in a sport that seems to fast be becoming more about entertainment than competition.

This book gives anyone who is interested in football a totally unique, all-access insight in to what real honest football is about at a traditional club. I can tell you now this is one of the best books you will ever read, I can also tell you that you will almost fall in love with everything that Millwall stands for; real people and real football, where there is still that special connection between club, player, manager and fan. I loved this book because it made me remember the true meaning of football and if you give it a chance I think it will do the same to you.

You can win a signed copy of Mike Calvin’s ‘Family, Life, Death and Football’ on Football Rascal now, see our Facebook page or our Twitter account for more details on how you enter for free.

If you can’t wait, you can download the book on iPad or Kindle or buy the paperback on Amazon right now.

You can follow award-winning sports journalist Mike Calvin on Twitter also @Calvinbook and don’t forget to follow The Rascal @FootballRascal

This entry was posted in Championship, Club Focus, Competitions, Feature Articles, Football Books, Football Business, Football Lifestyle, League One, League Two, Managers, Owners, Player focus, Premier League. Bookmark the permalink.
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