Book Review: Barclay Boy: Season in the Sun by James Scoltock

“My name’s James Scoltock, I’m a football fan and so very happily one dimensional” declares the author in his review of a dramatic 12 months for his club, Norwich City.

The 12 months in question are from May 2011 to May 2012 covering the final stages of Norwich’s promotion to the Premier League and their subsequent season in the top flight of English football. I worry that, although this may limit its appeal to fans of Norwich City, there are nevertheless few references to the club’s past and little that is enlightening about the club itself, however it is undoubtedly a passionate and personal view of a significant period of time in the footballing fortunes of the author’s team.

“I have my own favourite moment from the 2011-12 season. Grant Holt winning a free-kick from Laurent Koscielny in the centre-circle at Arsenal. The red majority of 60,000 supporters were up in arms, pouring their vitriol all over the City skipper who stood there, arms outstretched in a nonchalant gesture of innocence. It was the same gesture, the same vitriol City fans had seen from 4,000 supporters at Yeovil and 4,500 fans at Scunthorpe. And now it was happening at Arsenal”. Such an experience; not a result nor a goal, but a sudden realisation that your club’s place in the world has changed will resonate with all football fans. This is from the Foreword and unfortunately such genuinely astute footballing observations are never captured with the same clarity within the book itself.

Where the book succeeds is that it gives an insight into how a football fan’s time can be filled between games and in the close-season; worrying about the last game, worrying about the next game, worrying about who might be leaving or joining and what is being said about the club. And having read the book you will be familiar with much of what was said about the club; there are many transcripts of chat-room conversations and match reviews from nether regions of the internet, as well as more mainstream media content.

Diversions into topics such as Colitis, visits to Japanese football matches and attempts to star in an ESPN trailer for his club add a layer of interest yet, although these elevate it to more than a standard review of the season, surprisingly they give the reader little insight into the author or his character.

It’s an honest and occasionally amusing book with a scattering of typically football-esque mangled clichés such as “hammer in the coffin” and it captures a fan’s experience of a dramatic 12 months for Norwich City.  The fan lives in London, doesn’t get to all the games and supported Liverpool until 2004. That may or may not pique the interest of Norwich supporters who are looking for a book to help them re-live the experience of promotion to the top tier of English football and their relatively successful first season amongst the country’s top teams.

Paul Gowland


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Posted October 19, 2012 by Editor in category "Reviews

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