There are a lot of books about soccer which would like to be compared with Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. However, there are not so many books who can stand the comparison. She Stood There Laughing makes a good job. It is not the Fever Pitch, but it is a funny and entertaining book. The title reveals a lot. It is about the man, his son and their football club. And it offers a few hours of pleasant entertainment.
Author: Stephen Foster
Title: She Stood There Laughing: A Man, His Son and Their Football Club
Paperback: 256 pages
This review was originally published at allmybooks.org, the site devoted to good books and their reviews. Unfortunately, the site is no longer online. They gave us permission to republish soccer books reviews.
It is easy to regret yourself if you are a fan of Arsenal or Manchester United. But what would you do if you are a fan of a finally second-league Stoke City?
Even this kind of reference to Fever Pitch from Nick Hornby can be found in Stephen Foster book She Stood There Laughing. Simply put it is the book about one season of average football club fan. That fan is Stephen Foster and the club is Stoke City.
Foster lives in Norwich but it can not stop him from visiting matches of his club on weekly basis. Usually, he is accompanied by his son Jack, another passionate Stoke City fan. So you are reading the history of the season. Round after round, match after match, diary of one year (soccer year means August to May, not calendar one). Season 2001/2002 was not an easy one for Stoke, as they fought for maintaining League for another year. So the key question of the book is set. Will Stoke stay in the second league or not. I will not reveal answer as you can find it on a net or on the last pages of this book.
The author is not Nick Hornby and sometimes he repeats himself. You will not burst out to uncontrolled smile so many times as you did when reading Hornby’s Fever Pitch. However, I finished the book in two days. Author has a high degree of masochism and self-irony in himself.
Fever Pitch is absolutely respected benchmark for all football books, so we can compare also this book to it. To be an Arsenal fan in 90s means you see losses and draws just occasionally. To be a Stoke fan in 2001/2002 means that you see wins just occasionally. Your team loses almost with every other club and you spent an entire year with raving about owners (Icelandic owners) who do not understand football, incompetent managers, and weak players.
From match to match you count losses and are afraid of next season in a lower league where you inevitably will visit smaller and smaller villages. To be the fan means you have to stay with your club whatever happens. No matter how many losses you see, what position you stay in a league table, you can not change your club. Being a fan, it is for life, not for a season. And that’s the point of his book. You have to stay with your club, with your life. You can do it if you have enough trust in you and enough self-irony. And Stephen Foster and his son have it. They have self-trust and also self-irony.
This book is a very pleasant companion for afternoon day after your club lost again. At least, there is no other source for so many pertinent comparisons to your incompetent manager. And moreover, you feel that you are not alone in this mess.