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Fever Pitch

5 stars
10,431 (26%)
4 stars
14,748 (36%)
3 stars
10,807 (27%)
2 stars
2,932 (7%)
1 star
1,092 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,798 reviews
Profile Image for Baba.
3,621 reviews987 followers
March 3, 2022
Set up a as memoir, this is lifelong Arsenal (big UK soccer team based in London) fan Nick Hornby's recollection of his life so far, mostly through his lifetime obsession of supporting, following and loving Arsenal Football Club. What begins as a pretty interesting by maybe niche (on a global reading scale?) look at being a big supporter of an English premier club slowly (and purposefully) evolves into the nature of male obsession?

Hornby is frank and honest in this surprisingly insightful read and doesn't veer away from talking about football violence, racism, gender divides, Hillsborough and more. An absolute must-read for Arsenal fans, but also an informative read for other readers for an honest male lens look at the intensity and nature of, men and their material obsessions? 8 out of 12.

2022 read
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,195 reviews1,816 followers
June 18, 2022

Mi innamorai del calcio come mi sarei poi innamorato delle donne: improvvisamente, inesplicabilmente, acriticamente.

Il libro che ha sdoganato i tifosi di calcio.
Quel tifoso che palpita per la sua squadra, conosce tutti e tutto a memoria, dati e date, quello che palpita urla gode e soffre, che vive passione ed emozioni piuttosto irrazionali e poco governabili. Come la musica, l’amore, il sesso.
Non il tifoso razzista squadrista nazista violento picchiatore magari spacciatore mafioso o affini.
Quell’altro tifoso, quello più pacifico, quello che fa simpatia, perfino tenerezza. Il cucciolone un po’ infantile che ha sostituito il pelouche con la squadra di calcio. Né hooligan né fight-club.

Colin Firth protagonista del film inglese del 1997.

Hornby ci racconta la sua vita attraverso capitoli che sono racconti distinti e collegati: ciascuno è un momento della sua vita, una ricorrenza familiare, un incontro felice, un evento personale. Ma tutti sono agganciati e collegati a un gol, una vittoria, un match, una posizione in classifica. È come se la sua squadra, che è l’Arsenal di Londra, la più importante tra le quattordici società calcistiche professionistiche della capitale inglese: quella che è nella serie A inglese (Premier League) ininterrottamente da più tempo di tutte, quella che ha vinto di più in ambito nazionale ma pochino in quello internazionale dopo Manchester e Liverpool.
A me ricorda un po’ quel club di Torino con la maglia bianconera che in Italia spopola, ma quando si confronta in Europa diventa timido, più bianco che nero, e moscietto. La cosiddetta signorina del calcio italiano. Anche se ormai sono sempre signore, signorina è rimasta solo la Franca Valeri.

Il remake americano del 2005, in originale sempre “Fever Pitch”, in italiano è diventato “L’amore in gioco”. La squadra di calcio diventa di baseball, i Boston Red Sox.

Esaltazioni e depressioni, manie, ossessioni, esagerazioni, riti scaramantici, occhi coperti come davanti a un film horror, urla sfrenate, salti di gioia, lacrime di disperazioni. Seguendo un pallone che passa da un piede all’altro, da un piede a una testa, a uno stop di petto, palleggio, tiro, goal, parata, fuori…
Anche se Hornby regala l’impressione che la sua vita sia regolata e sostanzialmente dominata dal calcio e dal tifo, direi che il suo libro è il trionfo di chi tifa ed è spettatore più che del giocatore, del campione, della stella calcistica. Ci racconta quello che succede in campo, ma la vita vera sembrerebbe essere quella sugli spalti.
E dagli spalti si passa alle strade, alla stanza da letto, ai pasti in famiglia, alla classe scolastica: attraverso il pallone, passando per chi lo guarda correre di qua e di là sul rettangolo verde del campo di calcio, Hornby racconta se stesso, e il suo divertimento libro diviene un’autobiografia che si trasforma in romanzo di formazione.

Profile Image for Ed.
99 reviews15 followers
March 29, 2009
First Hornby I've read--managed to avoid the brief college craze after High Fidelity came out...but now wish I hadn't.

My roommate lent me this book after it came up randomly in a I approach 30 and sports fandom becomes more ridiculous proportional to my age, I find myself having to defend my enthusiasm for baseball more and more. Being in Europe probably has something to do with this too. In fact, discussing my love of baseball generally turns into an argument for/against the legitimacy/prominence of professional sports in our lives generally, and this inevitably leads, in my current context, to pointless self-righteous circle-jerks about football hooliganism. Suddenly I'm being handed a book about an English football fan.

At any rate, I find Fever Pitch to be cogent defense of passionate sports fandom, with all the sheepish acknowledgments of occasionally 'overdoing it' that this obviously requires. It is thoughtful, well-written and funny, and describes the windy path of a personal/professional life as it develops alongside and sometimes in direct relation to the game-to-game, season-to-season drama of FC Arsenal in London.

Now, I am nowhere near as crazy and obsessed a Twins fan as Hornby is an Arsenal fan, but to the extent that I nonetheless have to hear questions like 'can you go a day without talking about baseball?' fairly frequently, I feel personally identified with his sometimes indignant self-defense. Now instead of trying to explain in the same old tired ways what is so exciting about baseball (which is obviously barking up the wrong tree in the first place considering the glaze that appears in any interlocutor's eyes the moment you use the word 'strategy,' much less 'intense personal struggle'), I can just recommend this book and let the chips fall where they may.

You either understand it or you don't...
Profile Image for Bucko.
134 reviews
May 2, 2018
This is a complicated book. On the one hand it is a highly personal look at the shortcomings of one man and (or should I say because of?) his obsession with a British football (soccer) team, seemingly so narrow in scope that I have a hard time thinking anyone but an Arsenal fan would enjoy it. On the other hand, it just might be the greatest sports book ever written, enabling those who don't "get" sports to understand how and why certain people they love can care so much about a bunch of grown men running around chasing after a ball. I want to recommend this book to everyone I know, but with the caveat that they will probably not enjoy it. "Hey you should read this - I think you'll hate it!"

Fever Pitch is Hornby relating his struggle as a die-hard sports fan (in his case soccer), and what an unmerciful, miserable, and ultimately inescapable experience it truly is. To love a sporting team is to know the constant, dull ache of suffering - at best punctuated by fleeting moments of triumph, at worst...endless, bottomless despair. The prevailing sentiment carries over well to other sports and it comforts me, when I find myself wondering why the (mis)fortunes of 11 or 9 or 22 strangers affect me so much, to know that someone out there shares and understands my pain.

In the end, it's not even a "sports" book, not really. Fever Pitch is about obsession - the ease with which we fall into it as well as its smothering intensity. Ostensibly a book about soccer, in reading it you can recognize the traits of that person in your life, perhaps yourself, who loves anything just a little too much.
Profile Image for Alan.
471 reviews214 followers
June 19, 2022
“I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”

I read a fair amount – I would say that those close to me, those who know me well, would say that reading is my life. They are not entirely wrong. Reading sustains me. I begin to physically shake if I haven’t read for a few days, the rare event that does occur once or twice a year when the schedule is unrelenting. But those that are the closest to me know that reading, books, all of that jazz, cannot wish, cannot ever hope to compare to Arsenal. If I was given the vile and abusive choice between not reading for a year and not watching Arsenal for a year, I would pack my library before the day was up. I’m sorry. Fuck off to the storage while I get the TV room ready, the game is almost on.

Being the way I am is a surreal experience. I have been an Arsenal fan since I was 6 or 7ish. I am now in my mid 20s. That means that for nearly 2 decades, I have been heavily indoctrinated in the cult that is Premier League football, the drug that is waking up at ungodly hours on my weekends in order to watch a drab 0-0 from my living room. Living in North America and being an Arsenal fan is an even weirder experience, seeing as I often meet 40-50 year old men who are Arsenal fans that have been supporting the team for five or six years, tops. So I often find myself giving advice, consoling, telling them it will be okay, that it was different, that it will always work out, that it will get better. Then they go back home to their families and kids and mortgages, while I go back home to do school work or read (depending on what the result has been). The story of my falling in love with Arsenal will have to wait for another day – I am only allotted a certain number of characters in a Goodreads review, and so I will keep this one a bit more concise.

There are moments in my life during which I attempt to paint a picture of my obsession, to tell others how it is to live my life tied to the whims and fancies of an abstract body situated in London, England, an institution that dictates so much of my day to day and whose schedule sets mine. In these moments, I get the eye rolls and I sense the disbelief. I am not trying to exaggerate for the sake of a piece written on Goodreads – I gain nothing in making others here believe in my state of mind. I am not adding flair and spice to my writing with hyperbole. I am addicted to this life and not many understand why. Nick Hornby understands it perfectly. I have never been so directly understood. A beam of light has shined on me. No doubt this is one of my favourite books of all time, if only because it showed me that I am not alone. That being said, I cannot in good faith recommend this to others readily. Why? Well, you may not give a damn about the intricacies of the game of football (and very specifically Arsenal); you may not understand the passion and this book may do nothing to further your understanding; you may find the premise unbelievable and the drama too fantastical, to all of which I say, fair enough. If you ever meet me in person and want to understand me deeper, then read this.

I couldn’t read this book without a pencil in my hand, and consequently the book is marked up beyond belief. Hornby’s words are better than my own, so I will use his quotes for the rest of the review. Feel free to read on if you want to – these dark necessities are part of my design.

“It’s in there all the time, looking for a way out.”

“What are you thinking about?’ she asks.
At this point I lie. I wasn’t thinking about Martin Amis or Gérard Depardieu or the Labour Party at all. But then, obsessives have no choice; they have to lie on occasions like this. If we told the truth every time, then we would be unable to maintain relationships with anyone from the real world. We would be left to rot with our Arsenal programmes or our collection of original blue-label Stax records or our King Charles spaniels, and our two-minute daydreams would become longer and longer and longer until we lost our jobs and stopped bathing and shaving and eating, and we would lie on the floor in our own filth rewinding the video again and again in an attempt to memorise by heart the whole of the commentary, including David Pleat’s expert analysis, for the night of 26th of May 1989. (You think I had to look the date up? Ha!) The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron.”

“Fever Pitch is an attempt to gain some kind of an angle on my obsession. Why has the relationship that began as a schoolboy crush endured for nearly a quarter of a century, longer than any other relationship I have made of my own free will? (I love my family dearly, but they were rather foisted on me, and I am no longer in touch with any of the friends I made before I was fourteen – apart from the only other Arsenal fan at school.) And why has this affinity managed to survive my periodic feelings of indifference, sorrow and very real hatred?”

“I have friends who will regard this as pretentious, self-serving nonsense, the kind of desperate justification one might expect from a man who has spent a huge chunk of his leisure time fretting miserably in the cold. They are particularly resistant to the idea because I tend to overestimate the metaphorical value of football, and therefore introduce it into conversations where it simply does not belong. I now accept that football has no relevance to the Falklands conflict, the Rushdie affair, the Gulf War, childbirth, the ozone layer, the poll tax, etc., etc., and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who has had to listen to my pathetically strained analogies.”

“I was acutely aware of this, and so a new source of discomfort emerged: as Arsenal huffed and puffed their way towards 1–0 wins and nil-nil draws I wriggled with embarrassment, waiting for Dad to articulate his dissatisfaction. I had discovered after the Swindon game that loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. Marriages are nowhere near as rigid – you won’t catch any Arsenal fans slipping off to Tottenham for a bit of extra-marital slap and tickle, and though divorce is a possibility (you can just stop going if things get too bad), getting hitched again is out of the question. There have been many times over the last twenty-three years when I have pored over the small print of my contract looking for a way out, but there isn’t one. Each humiliating defeat (Swindon, Tranmere, York, Walsall, Rotherham, Wrexham) must be borne with patience, fortitude and forbearance; there is simply nothing that can be done, and that is a realisation that can make you simply squirm with frustration.” [Alan's Comments: If you are reading this on the day that I post it, by the way, happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there. My dad has become a much more involved player in the matches, so I now look forward to watching the games with him, even if we end up arguing on the philosophy of football and life and the backpass - the darned backpass - for most of the 90 minutes.]

“I am aware, sometimes, in my group of Arsenal-supporting friends, of an understated but noticeable jockeying: none of us likes to be told something about the club that we didn’t know – an injury to one of the reserves, say, or an impending alteration to the shirt design, something crucial like that – by any of the others.”

“It is a strange paradox that while the grief of football fans (and it is real grief) is private – we each have an individual relationship with our clubs, and I think that we are secretly convinced that none of the other fans understands quite why we have been harder hit than anyone else – we are forced to mourn in public, surrounded by people whose hurt is expressed in forms different from our own.”

“It is hard for me, and for many of us, to think of years as being self-contained, with a beginning on 1st January and an ending 365 days later. I was going to say that 1980 was a torpid, blank, directionless year for me but that would be wrong; it was 79/80 that was these things. Football fans talk like that: our years, our units of time, run from August to May (June and July don’t really happen, especially in years which end with an odd number and which therefore contain no World Cup or European Championship). Ask us for the best or the worst period in our lives and we will often answer with four figures – 66/67 for Manchester United fans, 67/68 for Manchester City fans, 69/70 for Everton fans, and so on – a silent slash in the middle of them the only concession to the calendar used elsewhere in the western world. We get drunk on New Year’s Eve, just as everyone else does, but really it is after the Cup Final in May that our mental clock is wound back, and we indulge in all the vows and regrets and renewals that ordinary people allow themselves at the end of the conventional year.”

“Part of it was my own latent depression, permanently looking for a way out and liking what it saw at Highbury that night; but even more than that, I was as usual looking to Arsenal to show me that things did not stay bad for ever, that it was possible to change patterns, that losing streaks did not last. Arsenal, however, had other ideas: they seemed to want to show me that troughs could indeed be permanent, that some people, like some clubs, just couldn’t ever find ways out of the rooms they had locked themselves into. It seemed to me that night and for the next few days that we had both of us made too many wrong choices, and had let things slide for far too long, for anything ever to come right; I was back with the feeling, much deeper and much more frightening this time, that I was chained to the club, and thus to this miserable half-life, forever.
I was stunned and exhausted by the defeat (2–1, although the one came in the last minute, and we were well beaten by then): the next morning a girlfriend phoned me at work, and, hearing the tired dejection in my voice, asked me what was wrong. ‘Haven’t you heard?’ I asked her pitifully. She sounded worried and then, when I told her what had happened, I could hear, just for a second, relief – so it wasn’t, after all, the things she had momentarily feared for me – before she remembered who she was talking to, and the relief was replaced by all the sympathy she could muster. I knew she didn’t really understand this sort of pain, and I wouldn’t have had the courage to explain it to her; because this idea, that there was this log-jam, this impasse, and that until Arsenal sorted themselves out then neither could I… this idea was stupid and reprehensible (it gave a whole new meaning to relegation) and, worse than that, I knew now that I really did believe it.”

“The things that I have often tried to explain to people about football – that it is not an escape, or a form of entertainment, but a different version of the world – were clear for her to see; I felt vindicated, somehow.”

“One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this: it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are missing the point. Football is a context where watching becomes doing – not in the aerobic sense, because watching a game, smoking your head off while doing so, drinking after it has finished and eating chips on the way home is unlikely to do you a whole lot of Jane Fonda good, in the way that chuffing up and down a pitch is supposed to. But when there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team’s fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals and climb the steps at Wembley to meet Princess Diana. The joy we feel on occasions like this is not a celebration of others’ good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defeat the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realise this above all things. The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us, but our representatives nonetheless, and sometimes if you look hard you can see the little poles that join them together, and the handles at the side that enable us to move them. I am a part of the club, just as the club is a part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding of how professional football works. This Wembley win belonged to me every bit as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas or George Graham (does Nicholas, who was dropped by Graham right at the start of the following season, and then sold, remember the afternoon as fondly?), and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did. The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon, a sweeter appreciation of why the sun still shines when I remember it.”

Thank you Mr. Hornby.
Profile Image for Kuszma.
2,276 reviews171 followers
November 19, 2019
„Unalmas focira panaszkodni egy kicsit olyan, mint felpanaszolni, hogy miért végződik olyan szomorúan a Lear király…”

Ez a könyv, azon túl, hogy
a.) sporttörténet, ami felvázolja a brit szurkolói szubkultúra változásait a romantikus hatvanas évektől egészen a profitorientált kilencvenes évekig
b.) mentálhigiéniai olvasókönyv, melyben a szerző gyomorba markoló őszinteséggel vall függőségéről és a pszichopatológia határait feszegető lelki jelenségeiről,
mindenekelőtt egy
c.) atipikus love story, amiben főhősünk gyerekként beleszeret valakibe, és ez a szerelem egész életének csontos váza lesz. A baj csak az, hogy a szerető egy méhkirálynő, aki maga köré gyűjti a férfiakat, elvárja tőlük, hogy pénzt és időt pazaroljanak rá, de cserébe nem ad nekik semmit. Hitegeti szegényeket. Úgy csinál, mintha most aztán tényleg, de tényleg boldoggá tenné őket, de aztán fityiszt mutat: a sorsdöntő bajnokin összeomlik, kilátástalan és nézhetetlen focival kikap egy – nullra a kiesőjelölt ellen. Vagy a kupadöntőn 88 percig szemet gyönyörködtetően játszik, aztán az égbe bombáz egy tizenegyest, majd a kapusunk is lepkézik, és a szurkolók máris a depresszió ködtől nyálkás szakadékában találják magukat. Tizenhét évente azért eljuttat minket az extázis legmagasabb fokára, amikor egy ballábas kapáslövéssel bebiztosítja a bajnoki győzelmet, de ezt is csak azért csinálja, hogy a köztes tizenhét évben nyugodtan szívathasson minket. Ez a méhkirálynő a fociklub, aki meg sem érdemel minket, de mi mégis rajongunk érte.

Mint minden jó focikönyv, ez is sokkal több, mint focikönyv.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,327 reviews2,145 followers
October 15, 2015
Just an okay book which is disappointing from this author. I expected more. There were hints of his usual entertaining writing style and at least having grown up in the same time frame in the UK I did know some of what he was talking about. However his descriptions of his obsession were actually very sad and he came across as a rather shallow and unlikeable individual. I think I would have liked to hear more about his life and less about who kicked which goal at which match whenever. I have to say his memory for all those unnecessary details was bordering on scary! Not his best book in my opinion.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,379 reviews139 followers
June 25, 2023
I've only recently discovered Nick Hornby and I'm really enjoying his books, very readable.

Three stars.
Profile Image for Moira.
258 reviews6 followers
January 12, 2009
I love this book more than I can express. I read it for the first time after a particularly painful baseball season (Mariners expelled from the playoffs by demonic Yankees) and I've probably read it every year since. I'm actually reading it again right now because I am painfully baseball deprived until spring training.

Now I realize that it is not actually about baseball specifically- and please, never speak to me about the Americanized movie starring Jimmy Fallon because I will cry and shriek- but sometimes it's the only thing that can make me feel like part of the universe again after my brain has been completely taken over by baseball fanaticism and I need to come down.

In a review of Moneyball, Nick Hornby said this:"I understood about one in four words of Moneyball, and it’s still the best and most engrossing sports book I’ve read for years. If you know anything about baseball, you will enjoy it four times as much as I did, which means that you might explode." For me that completely applies to Fever Pitch, but substitute English football (or as I like to say, "soccer") for baseball. The ridiculous, futile, completely self-inflicted pain of being a sports fan is universal.

If you like this book at all, and even if you're a Red Sox fan- no, especially if you're a Red Sox fan, do not ever watch the American movie. There's a perfectly pleasant and enjoyable British movie that stars Colin Firth, and you can probably find it on Netflix. It's very satisfying, and it doesn't insult the entire world of sports by shoving Drew Barrymore and David Ortiz together.
Profile Image for Abhishek Dafria.
476 reviews19 followers
December 15, 2013
I have been an Arsenal supporter for the past 12 years. I have seen the ups and downs of the football team, I have shared their glory, I have shared their pain. They have given me days where I would not have wished to be anywhere else, and they have given me days where I wondered why I got hooked onto them. It has been a fan's journey, and it is going to continue to be, as I find myself in one of my biggest love-hate relationships. Nick Hornby has been on this path since 1969. While this book was written during the 1991-92 season, it is still the narrative of someone who has lived a fan's life for more than two decades. It is a thought which I dread, and yet one I know I will have to experience too. Fever Pitch does not tell me in any way that things would get better, infact it does the opposite; but what it lets me come to terms with is the fact that I will not be walking out of this relationship, that I am in it for the long term, and that I am not alone.

Fever Pitch is a riveting book written from the heart by Nick Hornby who talks of the journey that Arsenal took since he started following the English football club, and how events on the field intermingled with events in his personal life. Arsenal back then were not even as exciting as they have been post the book's publication, so it really must have been something to support the club then. Fever Pitch talks about the club's heroes and villains of those years, and it talks about the events that went around in the football world then, be it hooliganism or the Hillsborough tragedy. But this book, as the author himself states, is not about the football as such, but its consumption. The turmoil that it can bring to a hardcore fan, the amount of significance it can assume for some, is something that can be mocked or respected. Nick Hornby asks you to do neither, nor does he care. He writes about the way things are, not about how they should have been. He writes his narrative with ease, mixing it with moments of dark humour, while also dwelling on the serious issues.

Fever Pitch is a book that should be read by any Arsenal fan. It should in fact be read by any sporting fan. The emotions in the narrative will strike a chord and make you nod your head repeatedly, for you have been there too... for you too would be loving something so much that it hurts.
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews331 followers
July 4, 2015
The football season ended with a huge sense of relief but almost instantly I was in pain at the thought of June and July, those two months of the year when I have to fill my mind with thoughts other than 'when are Arsenal playing next? What time of the night do I set my alarm for?' The two months without football are the worst of the year. Not least because now that I am living in Australia, as opposed to England, it's also winter. It felt like the perfect time to finally revisit one of the books I've enjoyed most in my life, the memoirs of Nick Hornby, the now celebrity Arsenal fan and writer of lit-light novels that get turned in to not bad movies.

Having initially read this book in 1994 at the age of 12, before my world changed in so many ways and before professional football in England changed in so many ways I was curious as to how Fever Pitch would stand the test of time and how accurate my memory of it was. And I am happy to report that I enjoyed as much, if not more, now than I did then but most likely for different reasons.

The anecdotes are often hilarious and the observations of people and especially obsession/fandom/fanaticism are incredibly accurate, at times it felt like somebody actually understood why I behave the way I behave, these things that I always struggle to put in to words to justify myself to those people who just can't understand my chosen passion or the effect it has on me. It's not just a game to me, no matter how often well meaning people try to console me with that cliched line and perhaps now I can hand them this book and they will understand.

From an anthropological perspective this is an invaluable text, its a fabulous historical document also and as entertainment it fulfils its purpose and then some but most of all it's a marvellous source of pride for 'us,' the fans of The Arsenal that something so highly thought of is on its surface about us and not some other bunch of lillywhites or oil rich zillionaires playthings.

It didn't make the wait for the new season any easier but merely served to heighten my anticipation and expectation for when it finally arrives.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,494 reviews2,376 followers
November 19, 2021

Growing up, I had quite a few Arsenal supporters in my family, including my dad, brother, uncles and cousins, and while I do like football and have a soft spot for Arsenal it's nothing compared to the passion shown by them, and even more here in this memoir, of which is pretty much an out and out obession for the Gunners. The avid Arsenal fan writes about how he fell in love with football and how it flowed through his veins from that moment on. Hornby,in 1968 as an 11 year old, went with his father to his first ever game at Highbury and felt a big connection towards the North London club, and through his teens and 20s he even disliked them for creating an addiction he just couldn't drop. The chapters in the book headline a different Arsenal match, and is as much a history of the club’s fortunes as it is the writer's own life around this time outside of the beautiful game. I could really identify with the emotional pull of not just the Arsenal fan but with supporters and fans of any team and how that sense of euphoria and bitter disappointment is really felt deep down to the core. Then, later on, he covers the day I won't ever forget, May 26, 1989, with most of my family glued to the TV for Arsenal's breathtaking match at Liverpool and the last minute goal to win the league title. One of the most dramatic finales in British sport ever, and probably the noisiest my old family home ever was. So yes, reading this book now no doubt gave me a warm and nostalgic feeling. Another thing to touch on reading this now, is just how much the game has changed. Not always pretty to watch, and with more mud than the nice green grass we see today. And there there is the problem of hooliganism, the stadiums and facilities that weren't in best of conditions for fans. Obvoiusly, today the money and materialistic side of the game is just unbelievable. A great book for any Arsenal fan but I'd like to believe there is something in here too for those non-football fans to identify with. I really enjoyed it. A book with a great heart and soul.

Profile Image for KnownAsLavinia.
215 reviews
July 10, 2018
Febbre a 90° è tutto quello che mi piace di Nick Hornby.
Ironico, sagace, cinico, mai superficiale, tagliente, tenero e sopratutto interessante.
Consigliatissimo se volete capire che cosa c'è dentro la testa di vostro padre, vostro zio, vostro marito o il vostro amico che per prendere un appuntamento con voi deve avere il calendario delle partite sotto mano...
Onestamente non me la sentirei di consigliare il libro a chi non è minimamente interessato al gioco con il pallone, è comunque un libro che parla solo di quello... a queste persone consiglierei di leggere tante altre cose di Nick, perché comunque lui è uno scrittore da non perdere di vista.
Profile Image for Procyon Lotor.
650 reviews100 followers
December 5, 2017
"Spassoso, vero e profondo" Roddy Doyle, 1992
"Mr Doyle dice la verità" Procyon Lotor, 2009

E' un romanzo di formazione, la formazione essendo quella dell'Arsenal (antico e famoso football club londinese). Parla quindi di calcio, parla molto di calcio, della passione, in effetti il calcio da' perfino il titolo ai capitoli, nei quali si narra la vita dell'autore, meglio: nei quali si narra la partita del momento e quindi i fatti della vita sempre narrati con wit e humour (quando concesso dall'evento naturalmente).
Pertanto se detestate i romanzi di formazione, se detestate la passione, non importa da quali radici, se detestate i tifosi benché non hooligan, se detestate il calcio anche come onesto divertimento popolare, se detestate il wit e l'humour britannico e perfino la birra, questo libro non fa per voi, nemmeno voi per me comunque, per cui addio senza nostalgia.

Sappiate comunque che nonostante siano passati diciassette anni dal giorno nel quale questo volume d'enorme successo proiettò Hornby fra gli scrittori di fama internazionale, permettendogli di vivere del suo e di scrivere il resto dei suoi numerosi e meravigliosi romanzi, che giustamente tante sere di felicità ci dispensarono, il volume (del quale allora lessi un solo capitoletto in una rivista) non è invecchiato ed'è fresco come l'uovo che in certi pub vi servono con la birra.
(Che aborriate l'uovo con la birra vi è concesso) ___

PS. Il mio web-bot mi notifica testè che un signore mi ha definito pittoresco anglofilo e paraculo. Non sono in grado di obiettare allo stesso livello, mi fa male la schiena, ma improvvisamente sento di non aver sprecato la mia vita.

PPS. Sono un tifoso moderato e televisivo, il libro non mi è piaciuto perché aneli in modo particolare all'atmosfera da stadio, tolto uno svenimento durante Italia-Brasile dell'82, qualche scalata di fontane con dei e tridenti nello stesso anno e una catatonia protratta dopo Milan-Liverpool del 2005, interrotta da una solerte cameriera in abito tradizionale aragonese con un possente beveraggio rovente e qualche buona parola in castigliano, non ho aneddoti particolari né scontri cogli avversari da ricordare.

In ogni caso "La vita non è, e non è mai stata, una vittoria in casa per 2-0, contro i primi in classifica, con la pancia piena di patatine fritte." estratto dal romanzo.

Colonna sonora: The Clash - London Calling
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,774 reviews1,776 followers
April 2, 2015
NB: I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program, but that has not affected the content of my review.

I wanted to like this more than I did. I've read several of Nick Hornby's novels, and as I generally enjoy reading about sports and I enjoy memoirs and humor, I figured this book would be a gimme for me. But sadly, it wasn't.

To say that Nick Hornby was obsessed with football/soccer is an extremely large understatement. And like all people with true obsessions, if you let them, they will talk in excruciating detail about the object of their obsession, and they will talk about it endlessly, sure in the knowledge that the subject of their fascination is so interesting that whoever is listening can't help but appreciate every last bit of detail they can provide you with. Chances are, if you haven't been on the receiving end of that kind of informative onslaught, you've been the one doing the talking (or wanting to do the talking). I have been both (whoops).

The funny things is, listening to someone (or reading their writing) about something they are well-informed at or skilled at can be pleasurable. But there's a fine line between giving them information that will keep them interested and giving them so much it threatens to drown them. Unfortunately, I think that's what happened here, for me.

Hornby talks about soccer with a level of detail that assumes his reader already knows what he's talking about. He talks about soccer in a way I didn't know it was possible to talk about soccer. There were times entire sentences meant nothing to me because the words or concepts he was using rang no synaptic bells whatsoever. And that was frustrating, especially so because the rest of the book was very good.

Hornby ties his soccer obsession in very nicely to his relationship with is father, his childhood, growing up. It's also a very funny book. Hornby is unflinchingly aware of not only the negative (and positive) effects of his obsession on his own life, but is also extremely self-aware and reflexive about it. He talks about his love for soccer, and specifically his loyalty to his team, Arsenal, not as something he chooses to love, but which he literally can't help but to love, even if he doesn't want to. At times, it seems more like loathing than anything else. It's actually pretty fascinating. I just wish the lengthy bits about soccer had been a little less impenetrable.

[3.5 stars]
Profile Image for Megan.
95 reviews10 followers
January 11, 2011
I just finished reading this book for the second time. The first time I read it, I probably would have given it five stars; something about the glimpse into Hornby's world enthralled me, but then I wasn't quite as familiar with the lifestyle of being a Premiership fan as I am now.

Set up as a series of essays, Fever Pitch depicts the life of a man who is much, much more than a casual Arsenal fan, while much less than a "hooligan." It caters to everyone who finds themselves in between those two descriptions. As I was reading, I found myself at times nodding in affirmation as he described his emotional state during key moments in his lifetime. At other times, though, his experiences and observations were foreign to me; since I am an American, for example, it is difficult for me to understand a lot the nuances between fan bases for different clubs which seemed second nature to him. As a result, I felt Hornby came off unintentionally judgmental during certain portions of the book, though I got the feeling that someone who has been an fan of footy in Europe for longer than I have could confirm some of the perceptions (and, to an extent, stereotypes) that he portrayed.

The book is very introspective. Hornby is the main, and really the only character, though it is his relationship with his dad which drives the story in the beginning and his relationship with his girlfriend which drives it toward the end. In a sense, Hornby is discovering the depths of his own passion as you go along. There is a great self-awareness at play here, and at some points I felt like Hornby was describing me instead of himself.
January 7, 2021
GIOCARE – AMICI/ALTRI AMICI tutti i mercoledì sera...
«Non sono bravo a giocare a calcio, è inutile dirlo, ma fortunatamente questo è vero anche per gli amici con cui gioco. Siamo bravi quel tanto che basta perché valga la pena di giocare: ogni settimana c’è qualcuno che segna un gol eclatante, un potente tiro al volo di destro o un tiro angolato che corona una funambolica discesa attraverso una difesa avversaria disorientata, e in segreto e con un senso di colpa ci pensiamo fino alla volta successiva (non su questo dovrebbero fantasticare degli uomini adulti).»
Mi piace guardare il calcio, mi piace giocarci. Lo faccio da oltre cinquant’anni e se questa epidemia non dovesse farmi lo sgambetto, ho intenzione di riprendere, e presto. Certo, a proposito di quel che affermava un Cavaliere dei Draghi, ormai ‘il mio corpo tradisce la mia volontà’, ma fino a quando il maledetto ginocchio non mi abbandonerà del tutto, ho intenzione di continuare a correre dietro ad un pallone.
Non sono mai riuscito ad essere invece un “tifoso”, ma Hornby ha avuto il merito di raccontare della sua “febbre”, delle sue angosce (molte) e dei momenti esaltanti (pochi) come tifoso dell’Arsenal in maniera divertente, con una vena di autoironia, accompagnata da riflessioni alle volte profonde e dolorose. Hillsborough su tutte.
Profile Image for Occhionelcielo.
120 reviews40 followers
October 20, 2018
Il 05.05.1972, all'uscita da Wembley l'adolescente Nick è sconsolato dopo una finale persa. Un anziano tifoso avversario lo vede e lo rincuora con queste parole: Ci sarà una prossima volta.

Vent'anni dopo, il 24.05.1992, all'uscita da Wembley ci sono io, sconsolato, con altri 20.000 sampdoriani dopo la finale di Champions persa con il Barcelona.
Una sola certezza: non ci sarà una prossima volta.
Per la prima volta, a 28 anni, mi rendo conto che una porta si chiude per sempre.

Da allora la mia vita di tifoso è praticamente finita, senza rimpianti, lasciando il posto ad un vago e saltuario interesse, che si ravviva solo in occasione dei grandi eventi.
Meglio così, da allora ho maturato una crescente avversione per l'ambiente del calcio ed ho liberato un sacco di tempo per dedicarmi a cose più interessanti.

Nick Hornby, non mi freghi: nessuna nostalgia!
Profile Image for Vishy.
680 reviews216 followers
July 4, 2018
I first discovered 'Fever Pitch' when I first discovered Nick Hornby years back - we read one of his novels for book club. I got it at that time and have been waiting for the right time to read it. Last week when I was thinking of which book to read next, 'Fever Pitch' leapt at me. I thought it was the perfect time to read it, with the World Cup on.

'Fever Pitch' is Nick Hornby's account of his life as a football fan. In the book, he talks about how his father took him to his first football match when he was around eleven years old and how by the end of the evening he had fallen in love with the game. The football team he fell in love with was Arsenal and in most of the rest of the book he talks about Arsenal's ups and downs over the next twenty five years, how he was part of it as a fan, how his life as an Arsenal fan was entwined with his life outside football and how during this same period he became a teenager, graduated from high school, went to college, had a girlfriend for the first time, how football affected his relationship with his mother, father, stepmother and half brother. He also talks about what it means to be a loyal obsessive fan of a particular team. Hornby also explores the changes that have occurred in football from the time he started watching the game till the time he wrote this book. He also talks about many of Arsenal's important matches and some matches involving other English clubs. The whole book is structured as a compilation of accounts of a series of matches through which Hornby explores the above themes.

I loved 'Fever Pitch'. It is Nick Hornby's love letter to football, and his love for the game shines through in every page. There are beautiful lines and passages in every page which delight and warm one's heart. My highlighting pen didn't stop working. Football is not my favourite sport - cricket and tennis are. I follow football only during the quadrennial World Cup. But while reading this book, I almost wished I was a football fan, an obsessive one. Though Hornby mostly talks about players that I haven't heard about (the only known names I encountered were Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst, George Best, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Linekar, Pele, Johann Cruyff) - as the book covers mostly English club football from 1968 to 1992 - the descriptions of those times, the players and the matches was so beautiful and vivid, that they transported me to those times and made me feel that I was watching the scenes that Hornby was describing. When Hornby gushes about Liam Broady, I felt that I was there in the Highbury stadium watching Broady playing for Arsenal, making beautiful moves in an important match. Hornby's humour shines through in every page and there were many passages which made me smile and laugh. I wish I had read this book when I was younger. I would have become a lifelong football fan.

'Fever Pitch' is fan's beautiful ode to football. It is the most charming, passionate book in football that I have ever read. Maybe, not even football. It is probably one of the most passionate accounts of any sport ever written by a fan. It is a book I will be reading again. If you are a football fan, this is a must-read.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

"Brady was a midfield player, a passer, and Arsenal really haven't had one since he left. It might surprise those who have a rudimentary grasp of the rules of the game to learn that a First Division football team can try to play football without a player who can pass the ball, but it no longer surprises the rest of us : passing went out of fashion just after silk scarves and just before inflated bananas. Managers, coaches and therefore players now favour alternative methods of moving the ball from one part of the field to another, the chief of which is a sort of wall of muscle strung across the half-way line in order to deflect the ball in the general direction of the forwards. Most, indeed all, football fans regret this. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we used to like passing, that we felt that on the whole it was a good thing. It was nice to watch, football's prettiest accessory (a good player could pass to a team-mate we hadn't seen, or find an angle we wouldn't have thought of, so there was a pleasing geometry to it), but managers seemed to feel that it was a lot of trouble, and therefore stopped bothering to produce any players who could do it. There are still a couple of passers in England, but then, there are still a number of blacksmiths."

"Like everyone, I have lamented long and loud the deficiencies of the English game, and the permanently depressing ugliness of the football that our national team plays, but really, deep down, this is pub-speak, and not much more. Complaining about boring football is a little like complaining about the sad ending of King Lear : it misses the point somehow, and this is what Alan Durban understood : that football is an alternative universe, as serious and as stressful as work, with the same worries and hopes and disappointments and occasional elations. I go to football for loads of reasons, but I don't go for entertainment, and when I look around me on a Saturday and see those panicky, glum faces, I see that others feel the same. For the committed fan, entertaining football exists in the same way as those trees that fall in the middle of the jungle : you presume it happens, but you are not in a position to appreciate it. Sports journalists and armchair Corinthians are the Amazon Indians who know more than we do - but in another way they know much, much less."

"One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this : it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are miss the point. Football is a context where watching becomes doing - not in the aerobic sense, because watching a game, smoking your head off while doing so, drinking after it has finished and eating chips on the way home is unlikely to do you a whole lot of Jane Fonda good, in the way that chuffing up and down a pitch is supposed to. But when there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team's fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals and climb the steps of Wembley stadium to meet Princess Diana. The joy we feel on occasions like that is not a celebration of others' good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defeat the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realize this above all things. The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us, but our representatives nevertheless, and sometimes if you look hard you can see the little poles that join them together, and the handles at the side that enable us to move them. I am a part of the club, just as the club is a part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding of how professional football works. This Wembley win belonged to me as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas or George Graham, and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did. The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon, a sweeter appreciation of why the sun still shines when I remember it."

Have you read 'Fever Pitch'? What do you think about it?
211 reviews16 followers
June 5, 2013
I came to Fever Pitch in a slightly roundabout way. I'm seeing someone with a couple of Nick Hornby books on her shelf, and feeling I had read some rather poor books recently -- and that few of my ways to book recommendations were leading me to books I enjoyed of late -- I had been thinking of giving Hornby a go. I still procrastinated it for a while, but I was thinking fondly, recently, of my experience with Jonathan Tropper and I happened to see something online comparing the two.

So I looked up Hornby on Amazon's Kindle store, and resolved to sort by highest customer rating and read whatever bubbled to the top. I didn't expect it to be Fever Pitch, at least not once I understood that it wasn't a novel and was therefore not quite what I was hoping for. But, I decided, what the hell. My own judgment wasn't leading me to good choices lately anyway.

The result was mixed. Fever Pitch isn't a complete autobiography of any sort. It's a memoir about being a soccer obsessive, and specifically an Arsenal obsessive. (If you're mentally upbraiding me for calling it "soccer" and not "football," please don't bother. The English coined the term "soccer" in the first place, and sneering at it is an ugly, particularly tribal sort of anti-American derision. I use it here where I might use "football" elsewhere because it permits no confusion and because the bulk of my Goodreads friends are American.)

Hornby is not a soccer fan in the same way you might imagine if you aren't well acquainted with the game. He is a die-hard, the sort for whom soccer results are deadly serious and apt to overshadow any other news, good or bad. He comments early on that the book is therefore primarily for either obsessives like him or people on the outside who want to know what it's like to live with such an obsession. I am neither, really. I count myself a soccer fan, and support a couple of teams in different leagues. I appreciate a beautiful play as much as anyone, and a victory for my side does put me in a better mood. But I don't live and die by results and I don't have or want the sort of recall necessary to remember the squad from a decade ago or the particulars of a match from someone else's Cup final. I lack both the proximity and the distance he describes.

So here is where the trouble begins for me. The book is not long, some 270 pages or so, but it's consumed, as I now know Hornby to be as well, with details. It makes it a bit of a slog at times, lacking the obsession (particularly with Arsenal, who are not my team) to really care about minor details. Hornby has an essentially simple thesis -- "I am a diehard Arsenal supporter and here is evidence of my obsession" -- and he runs into a fundamental contradiction. I don't care enough to want to read all of these match details, but did he not feel compelled to include all of them it would undermine his own thesis. The result is that I enjoyed myself a fair bit for perhaps 50% of the book, and then I was ready to be done.

Another recurring issue for me, and I will have a caveat about this in a moment, is that Hornby is an unrelenting homer. He has to be for the book to make any sense, but it's aggravating nonetheless. Here comes the caveat: if I remember correctly, this book was written around 1991, long before I paid any attention to professional soccer. Hornby is convinced that Arsenal are universally hated and perennially cursed with terrible fortune. Perhaps it was true then; I really don't know, but I doubt it. But Arsenal have finished very near the top of the league for years now, manager Arsène Wenger is famous for doing very well with a more limited budget than his peers, and among the people I know they draw far less hatred than Manchester United, say, or Chelsea. Hornby endured years of failure and Arsenal have won the league only three times in his life. Cry me a fucking river. To this West Ham supporter, whose team has never, ever won the league despite its storied history and famous academy system, this seems like an awful lot of whining. Hornby names West Ham as a much-loved club even among fans of other teams; in my time supporting them we have been among the most universally-reviled sides in the English system. Perhaps my own homerism is clouding my judgment, but having seen them written up alongside a lot of generally neutral descriptions by thoroughly unaffiliated writers as "a bunch of cheating Cockney bastards nobody likes," I really don't think so. Again, of course, a lot can and has changed since 1991. But the persecution complex wears a bit thin.

On a technical level, the book is executed well enough. Hornby strings together a sentence just fine, and he is candid about the many ways in which his behavior and thought processes are thoroughly ridiculous.

I feel okay about Fever Pitch, but I don't know that I can recommend it to a general audience. If you have an interest in soccer it's an interesting look at a true obsessive, and makes me feel better about my own interest in the game. It also tells me very little about whether I ought to read Hornby's other work, which comprises mainly novels. A mixed bag.
Profile Image for Scott Danielson.
Author 1 book32 followers
June 22, 2010
I learned a couple of important things from Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. First, I'm a lightweight when it comes to sports fanaticism. And second, I need to suffer a lot more before I'm allowed to complain about Liverpool.

The first NFL game I remember watching was a Super Bowl over at the Waters' place. My whole family joined their whole family and while we kids messed around all over the house, the adults watched the game. I recall two things about that day: the Steelers won the game, but I left there a Cowboys fan. Since that day, the NFL became the Cowboys and a bunch of teams the Cowboys play. I still can't imagine being a fan of any other NFL team. It's Cowboys or nothing.

How does that kind of attachment occur? How does one get so tied up with a team that the fortunes of that team actually affect the quality of one's day? Hornby has a lot to say about that as he tells the story of his life through his infatuation with Arsenal, a football (soccer) team from London with one of the greatest names ever given a team. We experience the highs and lows of his life along with the highs and lows Arsenal, and he shows us how the two are connected. He's achingly honest. There were several moments where I sat open-mouthed at something he did as an Arsenal fan, to only realize after a few moments that yeah - I could see myself doing something similar. If I had lived anywhere near the Cowboys, I'm sure Hornby and I would have even more in common.

But still - I'm a lightweight, even though how the Cowboys were faring at various times in my life is perfectly clear in my memory, and as much a part of my life as the people I actually interacted with. Like that time in 1985 that I bet Bob Southon that my struggling Cowboys would beat his mighty Bears, and how he laughed and gave me 14 points (which made me laugh, but I took them), and how I came in to school Monday morning knowing that I was going to get humiliated because the Cowboys got thumped 44-0. Yeah, rough. But that's what happens. Fans of a team often act irrationally. When you think about it, every fan but those of a single team end every season in disappointment. Yet every year, we set ourselves up again.

Over the last three years my sport interest has shifted entirely from American football to the-rest-of-the-world football. Lots of reasons why. I watched random Premier League games until one day I watched Liverpool FC. Gerrard and Torres - it was love at first sight. Can't be explained, but that day, things changed. I went from a casual viewer to a fan, and that meant that I would allow Liverpool to affect my mood. This last season, my third (or my second full) season of following them, the wheels came off. Hornby makes it clear several times in the book that I have no right to complain along with Liverpool's lifelong fans. I simply haven't suffered enough yet. I have no context, I don't know where they've been. I didn't live through their history, and therefore won't be happy enough when they win, nor sad enough when they lose.

I understand his logic, believe it or not. Doesn't make me feel any better, but I know that I haven't reached his level of fanaticism. I think I'm better off if I don't get there.
Profile Image for Sannie.
309 reviews1 follower
September 22, 2009
Fever Pitch is laugh out loud funny. I found myself laughing aloud in my living room, on the train, waiting for public transportation. It is a story not only about soccer (football, sorry), but about fandom, passion, and the relationships that go with it.

Nick Hornby details his relationship to the English football team Arsenal F.C. and yes, it's helpful if you know a little about the sport, otherwise you'd be a bit lost. However, his obsession with the team and sport is applicable to other obsessions as well; if you (or anyone you know) has ever been a fan of something and moods have been affected, then you will know perfectly well what he means. Arsenal is really a part of Hornby's life, becoming almost a character, and he details how he has to plan his social life around attending games, how his highs and lows correspond to the team's, etc.

I had had a great quote picked out that applied to universal obsessions, but somehow the dogear became undone. I guess I'll have to re-read the book sometime.
Profile Image for Abril Camino.
Author 29 books1,545 followers
March 14, 2022
Nick Hornby escribe de maravilla y leer sus novelas, para mí, es siempre un placer y una garantía de disfrute lector. Pero ojo con este libro. Yo le he puesto cinco estrellas porque me encanta el tema, pero creo que es muy muy difícil que lo disfrute (incluso que lo entienda) alguien que no sea, o haya sido, un auténtico fanático del fútbol. Además, el libro tiene ya bastantes años e incluso para mí, que conozco bien esa "fiebre en las gradas" de la que habla el autor, en muchos momentos me perdí un poco en anécdotas de los años 70 y 80. Pero bueno... para mí son 5 estrellas sin duda, aunque me pensaría mucho recomendárselo a alguien ajeno al mundo del fútbol.
Profile Image for Manuel Bricoli.
59 reviews6 followers
May 31, 2020
Bene. Finalmente ce l'ho fatta. Una faticaccia.
Da appassionato di calcio e da sportivo e da curioso in generale ho voluto fortemente acquistare e iniziare questo libro (prima volta con N. Hornby) straconsigliato da tante persone. Data la indiscutibile e sottile scrittura di Hornby e la mole del volume, il contenuto non è stato di mio gradimento. Questo perché il periodo di calcio narrato è completamente diverso e sconosciuto alla mia cultura calcistica (anni 70-90). Pertanto mi sono annoiato a morte e nel frattempo ho iniziato e finito un altro libro.
Non me ne vogliate ma per me il primo approccio con Hornby non è stato dei migliori. Vedremo in futuro eventualmente con altre sue opere.
29 reviews
September 15, 2007
It was almost too perfect that I chose to read Nick Hornby’s wonderful and engrossing football fan memoir Fever Pitch during World Cup month. Of course, it’s more than a football book, but I was really drawn to his frank admission of the very depths of his football obesession at the same time that the World Cup was reminding me how much fun and how intense it is to watch real top flight soccer.

The writing is great. I can’t say much more about that. His good rep is well-deserved and I feel that I’ve been properly introduced and can go one to one day read High Fidelity, About a Boy, and all the rest. So on to the content.

It’s hard not to admire, and perhaps envy a little bit, Hornby’s obsession with football. I can think of nothing that I have been so devoted to for even close to the length of time chronicled and I’m only a few years younger than he was at the writing of the book. To be able to count on one hand the number of games missed in the relevant lifetime is more admirable than lamentable. However, the book fairly recognizes the difficulty of cultivating such a devotion anew in this day and age.

Further, Hornby’s perspective and description of soccer tragedies and the almost inappropriate way the game just goes on are so well put.

A last bit of curiosity is the fact that for most of the book, the Arsenal Hornby describes is hardly the Arsenal I know. The Arsenal I know is one of the consistently good teams. They were entering this era toward the tail end of the book, in the early 90s, right before I would have started paying attention, but they had been so dismal, so good enough to avoid relegation, but not good enough to threaten to win almost anything for most of his recollection. I find it interesting and ironic how much the club’s success has mirrored his own. In an afterword, he does have some thoughts on the subject on how football has changed since the book.
Profile Image for Paola.
53 reviews
February 7, 2017
Ho sempre voluto leggere Hornby per un motivo forse un po' stupido (tutti i film tratti dai suoi libri mi sono piaciuti moltissimo) e forse proprio per questo ho sempre rimandato, ma alla fine mi sono tuffata su questa autobiografia per entrare in contatto con lui perché, prima di tutto, ho amato i due film che ne sono stati tratti, e perché sono una grande appassionata di calcio (sono un'abbonata e, quando la mia squadra gioca in casa, faccio circa 400 km A/R per supportarla) e perché adoro anche il calcio inglese (lo vedo meglio organizzato, per alcuni aspetti, rispetto a quello italiano).

Durante la lettura, molte volte mi sono ritrovata a sorridere per alcuni aneddoti o per alcuni pensieri, perché credo che alla fine siano comuni a molti tifosi, ma soprattutto mi sono rispecchiata in molte descrizioni: i riti scaramantici, il pensare che si possa controbilanciare un successo della propria squadra del cuore con qualche evento mediamente negativo del mondo, che la propria vita sia legata a doppio filo con la vita della propria squadra calcistica, il sentirsi parte integrante della società... Insomma, non ho potuto non legarmi empaticamente ad Hornby!

"[...]avrei accettato un governo conservatore, se questo significava una vittoria dell'Arsenal nella finale di Coppa; non potevo certo prevedere che la signora Thatcher sarebbe stata il primo Ministro più a lungo in carica di questo secolo."

La scrittura scivola via quasi senza accorgertene ed è per questo che prossimamente continuerò a conoscere questo autore prendendo in mano anche altri suoi romanzi, per deliziarmi con questo stile e per verificare se la verve e l'ironia tipici di questa autobiografia accompagnano anche le sue altre opere.
Profile Image for Pia P..
5 reviews85 followers
January 1, 2016
For someone who's only background on football are a handful of Azkal games and pictures of hot shirtless football players my friends try to entice me with, I honestly loved this book.

Nick Hornby tends to get too technical with his descriptions (and maybe, as a responsible reader, I should've at least tried to look up(/ask my friends about) the terms? but I'm lazy af) but that didn't take away from the experience. I'm honestly glad I made the executive decision to pace myself while reading it instead of rushing my way through it, because I would've probably skimmed through everything and missed the fandom experience. The book's depiction of fandom resonates so well to me even if I don't give a fck about Arsenal/football. I recognized myself in Hornby liking loyalty to a wart you're stuck with (hello problematic faves), his regression, his treatment of football as a crutch, etc. (just replace "football" with Niall Horan. lolJK I'm actually cooler than this, but I did enjoy the fact that one of Arsenal's greatest is named Niall lol)

Having said that, I wish I was equipped with at least a basic knowledge of how football actually works, or how clubs work in the UK before reading this because that definitely would've added to the whole experience. But I'm definitely going to walk away with appreciation for Arsenal and football culture in general, deeper than my casual love for hot football players.

Fever Pitch is a tribute to football and Arsenal in all their glory, warts and all, but Nick's love (obsession??) for the game and ~journey~ with football is something anyone can relate to, whatever their fandom may be.
Profile Image for Jack Silbert.
Author 15 books14 followers
April 4, 2012
OK, OK, it took me five months to read this book. Wait, I can explain.

I picked up a used copy for a buck at a library book sale. I started reading it during the last couple of weeks of my employment at the company where I'd worked for 19 years. So, it was a pretty heavy time. And during that last week.... I lost the book. Could not find it anywhere. Wasn't at the office; I'd packed up the office. But it wasn't at home. Did I leave it somewhere? That would be very unlike me. It would have to turn up. Or I could buy another copy? That seemed wrong; I'd only paid a dollar for it. But more importantly, it was, I don't know, symbolic. This was a major period of change for me and I want my mommy, uh, I mean, my BOOK.

A week later, it turned up in the apartment. Whew. We need some stability in our lives, after all.

And then, well, I had plenty of time to read, right? With the not-having-a-regular-job and all. I'm like Burgess Meredith on the Twilight Zone. Except, malaise was my broken glasses. Malaise and no routine. Because I would read a lot waiting for the train on my commute. And on the train. And now I wasn't taking the train so much.

And then a friend asked me to read his book, so that took precedence. And then I wanted to review a book for a friend's website so I read that. And then I was editing a book so I read that....

And maybe just maybe, Dr. Freud, part of me didn't want to finish Fever Pitch, as it was a connection to the old place.

Well... I finished it! In the New York Department of Labor office, for those who enjoy irony.

Oh, have I not reviewed the book yet? OK, there's a little more backstory required, sorry.

High Fidelity changed my life. Top 5 all-time books, you might say. My friend Nancy gave me a copy when I was fairly down in the dumps and I will always appreciate that gesture.

So of course I read About a Boy. And it... wasn't as good. It was good, just not... as good.

And I meant to read How to be Good but... didn't. Songbook, I read Songbook, another gift, that was solid, but didn't capture the High Fidelity magic. Juliet, Naked--that sounded like it might be a "return to form." But, I didn't get around to it either. So when I saw that copy of Fever Pitch, I snapped it up. Always meant to read that one. It would be like going back to an early album by a favorite musician who's now lost a step or two. Back to the hungry, early, passionate days.

I hadn't seen the Fever Pitch movie. The High Fidelity movie was terrific, I thought. (A very good job of Americanizing the story, in my opinion.) About a Boy was... eh. But Fever Pitch I was not going to see. Why? It was about the Red Sox! I hate the Red Sox. I'm not going to read a see a movie about them. (Though I did read John Updike's Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, and it was absolutely perfect.)

Which is why the Fever Pitch book was ideal. It's not about the Red Sox. It's about Arsenal and soccer. Perfect! I mean, I like soccer--played it from 2nd through 7th grades. And i follow it a little. But... I don't have a rooting interest. So I could just enjoy the book for what it is. The equivalent of me watching a game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

And it is a really good book. Not quite High Fidelity good, but, you can see it. The obsessive nature. The over-thinking. The sensitivity. The humor. The format is very clever: each "chapter" is a different game, excuse me, match, and we learn where he was (literally, but also, in his life). So there's family and school and lovers and jobs and triumphs and failures and celebrations and tragedies. And the game is always there for him. There's a brief window where he thinks the game will no longer be so important to him but--to our relief--it quickly passes.

Hornby really provides great insight into what it means to be a fan. (A much better look than that Joe Queenan thing I read many years back.) And along the way makes some great points, about economic classes, racism, hooliganism, fan safety, incorporating a lover into your obsessions, and more. Saddam Hussein even makes an appearance. We see Hornby go from boy to man, and the book ends with him just on the cusp of traditional "adulthood." (By the 1996 paperback edition I was reading of the 1992 book, he had a wife and a son.) I wonder how the last 20 years have gone. I like to think he's still at all the home matches, even if it's not at Highbury.

Profile Image for Anbu.
86 reviews20 followers
July 28, 2011
Fever pitch was an autobiographical account of an obsessive Arsenal fan whose happiness, sadness and everything depend on Arsenal’s success or failure.

Most of us, Indian football fans, started watching English football from around 1996. That is the time when ESPN start telecasting one or two matches per weekend. That too most of them were United and Liverpool games. This is why India has lot of fans from these two clubs.

For the guys like me, who started around 2003/04 season, Arsenal was all. The invincible team on a great football ground (First renovated Highbury, then world class Emirates) with great players likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira. We don’t know the past. The period when the dying on the football ground due to hooliganism, wall collapse and lot more reasons.

This book explains a lot about that period which most of us do not know. We always habituated to imagine foreign stadiums are like this from start. No issues of spectator safety and comfort would have ever risen. If you are the person who always complains about quality of Indian stadiums, please read this book. In a country like UK, the stadiums should need more than 100 years to get improved; our stadiums are new and are in the process of improving. It will happen in time, so stop complaining.

The best thing about this book was that this was written in the view of a fan. I could relate to lot of things like planning the outings and parties so that it would not affect him watching the matches, grumbling about the match whenever the team through away the lead and losing, we all do , don’t we?

The main part of the book is the 17 year trophy deficit until they won the league cup on 1987. The irony is now we are in the deficit of 6 years. So I could understand his feelings when he explains the joy he felt when the team won the league.

Also when Hornby explains his feelings after the team lost to Swindon in the cup final, I could relate it with the loss we suffered in the league cup final this year to the relegated Birmingham.
Fever pitch, another great non-fiction book I have read this year. If you are a football fan and following English Football for quite some time, this is a good read irrespective of whichever club you are. This book gives us lot of information that we would not possibly known from the period starting 1968 till 1991. If you are a Gunner’s fan, ‘Man, come on this is a book by one of us’.

No prizes for guessing my rating. :)
Profile Image for Gaurav Vartak.
105 reviews
March 21, 2013
Obsession can be a tricky thing. It can compel us to achieve great heights or push us into the darkest depths of depression. Nick Hornby’s obsession is Football (NOT Soccer); Arsenal Football Club to be precise. And the obsession is so deeply ingrained that during a phase in his life, he believed that the only way for him to overcome a career and life ending depression is if Arsenal starts playing well again. Such is the premise against which the book is set.

In Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby takes us through his first encounter with Arsenal in 1968, to Arsenal’s astonishing season-ending-title-deciding match against Liverpool in 1989. One of the points that he’s made at the beginning of the book is that a true Football fan won’t remember his/her life in term of years (1968, 1969, etc.) but rather in terms of Football seasons (68/69, 69/70, etc.) nor would he remember some of the memorable events (both in personal life or world history) through the dates that they occurred, but some big match that took place around that event. And thus it is that, in a book where he describes his life with respect to Football; and how it affected the course of certain events in his life, each chapter in the book begins with a match details as sub-heading (for example: Liverpool vs Arsenal, 26.5.89) and then goes on to describe the other details surrounding the match.

Normally, I am not a big fan of autobiographies, and though this may come around as one, it is not exactly so. It’s a crisply written book describing a fan’s view of Football and Arsenal. And though the book is about Football and Arsenal (about 85 % of it), it is still a book that can be read by most sports fans and thoroughly enjoyed.
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