Book Review: “Dirty Northern B*st*rds!” And Other Tales From The Terraces: The story of Britain’s Football Chants by Tim Marshall

“This is a book about the wisdom of the masses, and the madness of the crowd. It’s about football and Britain, and Britain and football, because you cannot understand one without the other.”

These are the opening words of the book from the introduction by author Tim Marshall, and it sums up the book incredibly well, as it explores the relationship of football, its spectators and the history of Britain.

The book is divided into three football-related chunks, First Half: Football Chants in Britain Today, Second Half: If You Know Your History and Extra Time: ‘You’re ‘Avin’ a Laugh’. As such they simply and neatly reflect what unfolds over the books 206 pages – football chants today, the history of the songs of the terrace and the humour of the chants.

Whilst this sectioning of the research makes sense, it may have made for a better flow if there was greater division within each of the three major sections.

However, this is a minor point of what is a well-researched book. It is in no way is a dry study, as Marshall shows he is a true football supporter who understands the culture of what was the terrace, but is now the all-seater stadium.

There is a great deal of humour throughout the pages such as when Marshall illustrates the absurdity of the football fans stereotypical classification of those from the various parts of the country.

He also is able to reflect that even though chants down the years have seen a great deal of invention and humour, there was (and is thankfully less so today) a time when chants and songs were vessels of violence, racism and homophobia.

This is a book which has an academic feel befitting of an established journalist, but is well worth a read, and may make readers listen more keenly to the sounds of the stands the next time they are at a game.

As a Fulham fan, it would be remiss to leave this review without a chant still sung for ex-chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed which came about when he was struggling with his application for a passport.

Sung to the tune of Volare:

Al Fayed, oh oh,
Al Fayed oh oh oh oh,
He wants to be a Brit,
And QPR are shit.


FBR Copyright 20214 All rights reserved.

Posted March 22, 2015 by Editor in category "Reviews

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