Book Review: The Long Way by A.E.Greb

This was a new experience for me, as it was the first time I had read an eBook. My initial conclusion is that I’m not a fan of the technology. It feels a cold experience and was too much like reading documentation for work. Perhaps over time, if I read more books in this way then my opinion may change, but for now, give this old-timer a ‘real’ book in all its many paged glory. Despite my reticence towards eBooks, I want to say that in no way did it affect the way I approached reviewing The Long Way by A.E.Greb (Wholepoint Publications).

There are many aspects of the book that appealed to me. Firstly, I liked the premise of The Long Way. The author, Ashley Greb “accidently” fell into attending an FA Cup game in the Extra Preliminary Round which then developed into a “plan” to embark on the journey of the 2011/12 FA Cup by the longest possible route in attending a game in every Round and a Replay. In total this amounted to 26 games – a remarkable feat. Secondly, it reinforces the message to those who believe that the FA Cup only begins in January each year, that the tournament actually starts in August, when non-league clubs start out their journey in the Extra-Preliminary Round. Lastly, I loved the scoring system, the Ground Hopper Rules that the author introduced, including my favourite, “…Moral Issue. All games involving MK Dons carry a serious moral dilemma (45% of gate receipts go to each club playing in the tie). An alternative game may be preferable…” The various rules ensured that this journey was not that of other FA Cup trails, where a team is selected from the opening Round and the victors followed all the way to the Final.

In terms of content, the book consists of a brief piece about the author, a foreword, including contributions from FA Cup winner Ian Selley and commentator, Martin Tyler and then pieces from the 26 games in the journey, finishing with some stats, an Appendix and link to photographs from the all the fixtures. The opening game saw the author travel to the Leg O’Mutton Field as Cobham took on Bagshot Lea on 19 August 2011 and ends at Wembley on 05 May 2012 as Chelsea overcame Liverpool. The ‘blog’ style of writing comes comfortably to the author, and this combined with his witty observations makes this an enjoyable read. Whilst providing details about the games attended, Greb also provides his thoughts on the modern game, in relation to areas such as sponsorship, the influence of the Premier League and how the FA Cup has been devalued in the modern era. The stats and Appendix provide some interesting reading, including “the numbers game” which details Round-by-Round, the number of clubs involved, the number going out and the Leagues entering at which stages. Also at the end of the book there is a link to the pictures that the author took throughout his journey. It could be argued that this is an advantage of an eBook in that there is no restriction on the photographs able to be loaded and viewed. Whilst there are some excellent pictures amongst them, for me, there are just too many to look at.

On a personal level I would have liked to have had more detail about how the author obtained tickets for the later stages of the competition, as traditionally these are the fixtures where other FA Cup journeys struggle. However, this is a minor point in an enjoyable jaunt through the 2011/12 FA Cup.

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Posted July 12, 2012 by Editor in category "Reviews

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