Book Review: Is it Just Me or is Modern Football S**t? – An Encyclopaedia of Everything That is Wrong in the Modern Game by Jim Keoghan
Jim Keoghan is a freelance writer who has for over thirty years been an Everton supporter. He has written three books about his beloved Toffees, Highs, Lows & Bakayokos: Everton in the 1990s, Everton Greatest Games: The Toffees Fifty Finest Matches and Everton: Number Nine: Nine Players, One Iconic Shirt. In addition he has produced two other football titles, Punk Football: The Rise of Fan Ownership in English Football and How to Run a Football Club: The Story of Our National Game.
In May 2021, he added to his bibliography with Is it Just Me or is Modern Football S**t? – An Encyclopaedia of Everything That is Wrong in the Modern Game. Given his years supporting the side from Goodison Park he is old enough to remember football before the Premier League came into existence and gave us what we now regard as ‘The modern game’. Keoghan acknowledges though in the books Introduction, that, “for all its ills, the game today, at almost every level of the sport, is technically and tactically better than it was in the pre-1992 age”, but that, “there’s undoubtably a sense that modern football comes at a cost.”
This book lists on an A-Z basis a selection of those things as chosen by the author which challenge the reader to judge whether indeed Modern Football is S**t. Every aspect of the game comes in for scrutiny, whether that be the media, The FA, pundits and presenters, players, fans, competitions and the like. As a result amongst the pages there a number of the obvious panto-villains of the modern era such as VAR, half and half scarves, and the Champions League, as well as others such as the yearly introduction of new kits and the proliferation of betting sponsors.
However, the major overriding factor is the introduction of the Premier League and the Sky influence. Pundits at Sky and indeed BT get their comeuppance as Michael Owen, Tim Sherwood, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher and Steve McManaman all get called out by Keoghan. Whilst the increase in ticket prices and rise of Corporate Hospitality are also seen as unwelcome consequences of life post-1992 and a result of the influence of the satellite company.
Each of Keoghan’s entries are short and sharp with a mixture of tongue-in-cheek comedy and sarcastic sideswipes at what the ‘People’s Game’ has become and just keeps on the right side of not becoming too preachy. Not every reader will agree with his choices, as he states himself. However, it would be interesting to see what twenty-something fan of a Premier League club would make of it. As a reader of a similar age to Keoghan, this book resonated with me.
The Premier League has brought money sloshing into the game, but as the rich get richer, those further down the food chain have to increasingly survive on scraps and with it traditions and history, like the ‘Magic of the FA Cup’, are tarnished and side-lined for ever. With recent news of a proposal for a World Cup every two years instead of four, the rumble of the money machine continues its relentless march. Just another example of Everything That is Wrong in the Modern Game.
(Pitch Publishing. May 2021. Paperback 256 pages)
To find out more about Jim Keoghan visit his website: www.jimkeoghanwriter.wordpress.com