Book Review (Part 1): World in Motion – The Inside Story of Italia ’90: The tournament that changed football by Simon Hart
It’s probably because so much is hinted at in the title that he couldn’t resist the temptation. Plus there is a striking cover picture of Gazza, as I recall. A successful book, like a baited hook, attracts and then captures the reader. I think it could be true in this case but I really don’t know yet since someone has got my review copy and won’t give it back!
It might come as a surprise to avid readers about World Cups that a particular hotbed is the bus depot of the East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) in Pocklington. I base that claim on the Missing Book Mystery.
All began well as I met the esteemed FBR top man in York to collect my copy of ‘World in Motion’ and for, ok, one or two beers. Whenever we meet, we always talk about football so there was plenty of speculation between us as to what Simon Hart had to say and why he thought it was the ‘tournament that changed football’. I noticed envious glances being shot at the book by other customers as it rested on the seat next to me in the Guy Fawkes Inn, those glances being presumably drawn by the action pic of Gazza. Clearly, the cover is well-chosen.
The Final of Italia ’90 – spoiler alert, West Germany won – was at the Stadio Olympico in Rome, pretty close to the Vatican, which is apt in a way because here comes a confession. I had actually made a start on the book on the (last) bus back to Pocklington. The usual things; check out the author, Simon Hart, and the publisher, deCoubertin Books from footie mad Liverpool. Chapter headings and general layout all seemed sound, providing a clear narrative structure. I put it on the seat beside me for the remainder of the journey. You know how it is, though, what with the steady engine hum and slight rocking motion of the bus, I might, just might that is, have drifted off a little. Whatever, when the bus stopped at the depot in Pocklington, I got off but the book didn’t.
I figured there would be no problem in calling round for it at the next opportunity and when I did so was greeted in a polite and friendly manner whilst somebody whizzed off to look for it. There’s a hint of Camberwick Green about the town but it was soon to seem more like Hot Fuzz. They said that though they were certain it was somewhere in the depot – and here comes the Missing Book Mystery part – the book had mysteriously gone missing. They were full of apologies and promised to find it for me. This they attempted to do with some vigour.
In an appeal to the purloiner, EYMS, I understand, launched the biggest poster campaign since Chairman Mao gave everyone in China a sheet of A4 and a red crayon – but still to no avail, the magical pull of ‘World in Motion’ has proven too potent a force. Some driver has been so hooked (see above) that he simply can’t let it go, or it won’t let him go. I am left wondering precisely what has struck a chord in the book thief’s psyche? I suppose the first thing is that, for a country bus driver, the ‘World in Motion’ part of the title chimes with his life, never still, always on the go. But deeper and darker, maybe, is that he absolutely has to know. Drawn by the eye-catching cover like others before him, he has been forced to look inside, the only place to discover the ‘inside story’ about what exactly happened that ‘changed football’.
One or more of those reasons might account for why it went but why has it not been returned? I understand EYMS even offered a temporary Book Amnesty but that also failed. Perhaps he can’t bear to share and it has been snaffled home to take pride of place in a small trophy cabinet? Possibly a surreptitious read is taken whenever the driver stops for his lunch break, tucked away somewhere deep in the Yorkshire Wolds? It could be that Simon Hart’s narrative, as he chronicles that defining tournament, has entranced him. After all, Hart is an experienced sports journalist who has been to the past five World Cups.
But what if it’s a, dare I say it, conspiracy and several drivers are involved in a cover-up? What if they all are? What if…
EYMS and I have had to concede that the review copy has found a permanent home elsewhere. But I will not be beaten. However, I have learnt my lesson and my second review copy will be arriving safely by post. Its contents must not be revealed on the packaging, though, lest it proves too enticing a prospect for the postie this time and the whole, ‘Can we have our book back?’ process starts again.