Book Review: The Palace Addiction by James Howland

The ‘diary of a season’ format has become a popular outlet for football fans making their mark in the literary world. In general they are published shortly after the end of a season, so it was something of a break with tradition and surprise to receive a request to review a book written in the main during 2014, published in 2015, and which reflects on events 5 to 6 years ago.

However, this is what Crystal Palace fanatic James Howland has crafted within The Palace Addiction, which details the events of the 2009/10 Championship season.

What starts out as a challenge by Howland to attend every Palace game, home and away, league and cup, is superseded by the events on and off the pitch as the club battles administration and relegation. It is a backdrop that in itself sets it apart from other books of this ilk, since the sense of threat to the club’s existence is a very real one and is felt deeply by the writer.

Where The Palace Addiction also wins is that it is a very honest account of the author and his life as a student at the time, juggling studying, a part-time job and travelling the country following Palace. Howland even describes himself as, “youthful, naive and foolish”, although very much in a self-deprecating way that is a feature of his writing.

Of course the match day routine is there – beers before, beers after and numerous trips to empty the bladder – as well as tales of mad midweek dashes to ground, missed trains and goal’s that never were. However, the ability to reflect and articulate his experiences are a key strength of the book and enables Howland to view the effect the challenge had on his family, social life and his studies.

A nice touch also are the various quotes that intersperse the chapters from players and management who featured during that season, as they look back on certain games or the season as a whole and reinforce the idea that 2009/10 was a special one indeed at Selhurst Park.

As with many self-published books the editing and proofreading could have been tighter (which the author himself acknowledges), but this is a minor criticism of a book that details an important season in the history of Crystal Palace and which creates an authentic picture of devotion to ‘your club’, which football fans the world over will recognise.


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Posted October 31, 2015 by Editor in category "Reviews

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