Match Fit takes an in-depth look at mental health in football, from the Premier League down to five-a-side, in the hope of destigmatising this much-neglected topic, with candid contributions from the likes of Chris Kirkland, Paul Lambert and Marcus Bent.

Subjects such as the issues facing footballers after retirement and the rise of social media are placed under the microscope, and we discover how being a football fan can benefit your mental health.

Seasoned pros discuss the challenges they’ve faced in football, speaking openly about personal experiences most of us wouldn’t associate with the glamour of the beautiful game.

From a grassroots perspective, there are uplifting stories of how people have learnt to manage their mental health, with football as a key tool to help them get through their day-to-day lives.

If the interviewees – involved in a sport that has traditionally lauded masculinity and the absence of so-called weakness – can open up about their mental health, then so can anyone.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. August 2023. Hardcover: 384 pages)


Buy the book here: Match Fit

Book Review: FOOTBALL>ANYTHING – How football has brought out the worst in so many for the sport they “Love” by Chris Roberts

First and foremost, this is a book with good intentions and a positive purpose, and readers will come to see that:

  • It has been cathartic in the authors battle with mental health since the loss of his father.
  • Roberts hope is that the book can also help others.
  • The book demonstrates that he enjoys the research side of writing, which provides him with the ability to focus away from the dark thoughts that he is unfortunately plagued with.
  • Proceeds from the book will go to the organisation Sean’s Place based in the Liverpool area which has provided Roberts with support during a difficult time in his life.

Football is obviously a major part of the authors life with his love coming from his dad introducing the young Roberts to the world of non-league football and the realities at this level of the game, which then as now is a million miles away from the professional level and the monster that has become the English Premier League. Nevertheless, Roberts reflects in the books Introduction how the pressures of winning games is stressful for players, managers and owners alike whether at Anfield or Avro.

With this in mind Roberts provides his views backed up by a range of statistics in looking at how the game has become affected by the pressures of a win at all cost mentality and the impact on the game and those involved in it both on and off the field. In doing so he looks at the darker aspects of the sport in terms of gambling, drugs, as well as corruption that exists within the top echelons of the governance of the beautiful game.

Unfortunately like many independently published book, it suffers from a lack of editing and proofreading, to the point that the typos become a point of distraction and do take away from the experience of the read at times.

Despite this however, Roberts should be applauded for taking on such ‘big’ topics within the global game and that whilst football means so much to him, ultimately his message is that LIFE>ANYTHING.

(Publisher: Independently published. February 2023. Paperback: 252 pages)


Buy the book here: Football>Anything

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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 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.