Interview with Chris Roberts author of, FOOTBALL>ANYTHING: How Football Has Brought Out The Worst In So Many For The Sport They “LOVE”
Ahead of a review of his book, FOOTBALL>ANYTHING: How Football Has Brought Out The Worst In So Many For The Sport They “LOVE”, Football Book Reviews posed a few questions to Chris Roberts.
Football Book Reviews (FBR): What is your first football memory and who is the club you support?
Chris Roberts (CR): My first ever football memory is actually going week in week out to watch my dad play football when I was a small child and also the teams he was physio for in the north west of England – the first two being Atherton Collieries and Prescot Cables. I loved being there and felt part of the team as a youngster and would play on the pitch before and after games and during half times. In terms of the team I support, I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan and am a season ticket holder in the Kop.
FBR: What was the motivation for writing the book?
CR: Essentially it was actually a way of helping me to cope with my depression. The person who gave me my love for football and who I shared a huge chunk of my footballing memories with – my dad – died two years ago. The book has been a bit of a saviour for me as I have struggled a lot with my mental health and it has been a way of escaping the dark thoughts I had in my brain and gave me an escape.
FBR: How did you get into writing?
CR: It all came about really by helping a friend who was doing their own book and getting involved in searching for references/evidence for what they were writing. He sent a draft copy of a chapter of his book into a WhatsApp chat and I looked through and saw he was missing some stats. I then started researching for them and in spending time doing this I realised that even in one of my darkest periods it had taken my mind off of the situation I was dealing with. This then motivated me to think this could be a good idea and even if it didn’t lead to a book this could be an escape for me.
FBR: How difficult was it to get the book published?
CR: I have self-published the book as I am raising money for a local mental health charity in Liverpool Sean’s Place https://seansplace.org.uk/ that has provided me with counselling. I used Amazon to do this as I was trying to raise as much money as possible for them and this allowed the book to receive more royalties.
FBR: What impact do you hope the book has?
CR: I hope the book helps others who may be struggling with their mental health to reach out and ask for help. The book shows the dark side of football and how mental health affects lots of professionals too. Our heroes who we treat like superheroes/superhuman are human too – everyone struggles and it’s important we reach out for help.
FBR: Finally, how do you see the game in 10 years from now?
CR: The game is changing in a way that I don’t think is for the better. My book shows the dark side of the game and greed is one chapter of the book that I focus on. This greed is what I think could potentially cause the game we love to be ruined. We saw that with the attempted European Super League, and most importantly I think you see that across the English Premier League (EPL) with how local children are priced out of ever watching their favourite team. Non-League football attendances are on the rise due to this and I know lots of people are leaving watching their favourite EPL team and you now see a more corporate fan base arising.
FBR: Thank you Chris and good luck with the book and raising funds.