Book Review: Buckminster’s Ball (Second Edition) by J. A. Zaremski

The cover is an oft neglected feature of a book, but in the case of Buckminster’s Ball it presents the reader to more than the standard synopsis which usually feature on the reverse of books.

J. A. Zaremski uses both the front and back to introduce the central character Everit Tyshinski and a brief outline of the events that lead to him taking up a position as a soccer coach at a high school in North Philadelphia.

The front cover is also adorned with a black and white football, which for people of a certain age will always bring back memories of the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. This was the first time this iconic sphere, which combined hexagons and pentagons to create a more rounded ball, was used on the world stage. The idea came from Richard Buckminster Fuller an architect, systems theorist, author, designer and inventor. And so the image of the ball design he inspired, provides the reader will a visual link to the book’s title. The ball also has a symbolic meaning in that one of that type is the only one that Tyshinski finds when he come to take his first coaching session at Thomas Paine High.

On the back cover there is also an image of a soccer goal on a pitch which looks unloved and unattended, symptomatic of the facilities of the high school Tyshinski finds himself having to use.

Once inside the book, over 305 pages, there is a prologue, nineteen chapters, an epilogue and a glossary of soccer terms (useful for those unfamiliar with the game).

Whilst the reader has been introduced to the central character and some of the key events on the cover of the book, the events leading to Tyshinski’s arrival at Thomas Paine High are detailed in more depth in the opening three chapters. These were on initial reading more challenging than the remainder of the book. This is due to J. A. Zaremski conveying the turmoil surrounding the central character’s life, with a shifting landscape of scenes and the wordy language of the attorney – Tyshinski’s previous employ.

As the book develops Tyshinski changes and it is reflected in the later chapters which are easier for the reader to navigate. However, if there is a criticism, it is that the often used device of reflecting on a character’s past or previous events can sometimes distract from the flow of the book.

However, overall Buckminster’s Ball is a good read. At the heart of it is a story of redemption, of hope and the power of soccer to unite and inspire; indeed a book that isn’t restricted to the soccer fraternity.

Note: This review is based on second edition of Buckminster’s Ball which was published in May 2015 following an editorial overview.


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Soccerex European Forum (Manchester): Opening Ceremony

Day 1 – Wednesday 10 April 2013

09:15 – 09:30       Opening Ceremony

–       Matt Lorenzo – Head of Media, Soccerex

–       Sir Howard Bernstein – Chief Executive, Manchester City Council

–       Adrian Bevington – Managing Director of Club England and Group Communications Director, The FA

–       Tony Martin – Chairman, Soccerex

Matt Lorenzo: Head of Media, Soccerex

The Soccerex 2013 European Forum opened with Matt Lorenzo welcoming all the attendees to Manchester a location he stated that could arguably to be called ‘the footballing city’ in England. He then introduced Sir Howard Bernstein, the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council.

Sir Howard Bernstein: Chief Executive, Manchester City Council

Sir Howard recalled when Manchester won the rights to host the European Forum and how it has over the years attracted 1,200 delegates and brought £6million into the local economy. He added that from 2014 until 2017 Manchester would be the venue of the Soccerex Global Convention, which he hoped would attract 3,000 delegates and generate £200million over that period. In that regard he believed this event would cement further, the inextricable link between football and the city. Sir Howard said that in 2010/11 football in the form of visitors, manufacturing and commercialism had brought £300million to the local economy and 8,500 jobs. He continued that the global success and reputation of the Manchester clubs had led to further investment in the city, such as Etihad opening their European Service Centre in the location. Manchester City had invested in facilities including a 6th Form College and Manchester United contributed to the city through their Football Foundation work. Sir Howard closed his address by welcoming The FA to the event; especially given the organisation is currently celebrating its 150th Anniversary.

Adrian Bevington: Managing Director of Club England and Group Communications Director, The FA

Next to speak was Adrian Bevington, from The FA who started by acknowledging the pride felt at England hosting the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley as well as the UEFA Congress during such a special year for The FA. He added that The FA was honoured to be involved at Soccerex in Manchester and sponsoring The FA 150 Lounge. Bevington added that it was important for The FA to talk about the game at all levels, but said that 2013 would be a special one at international level. This included the Men’s Senior team as they sought qualification for the 2014 World Cup Finals and the Women’s Senior Team and Men’s Under 21s and Under 20s as they take part in their respective European Championships tournaments in the summer. He added that Soccerex as an event provided an arena for discussion about football’s past and well as its future and it was important for The FA to be involved, to be accessible and listen and be aware of what was happening in the football industry. Bevington reiterated that The FA was a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation and that finance generated is reinvested into areas such as promoting grassroots football and increasing participation. He closed his speech by thanking Manchester City Council and Soccerex for the invitation and their hospitality.

Tony Martin: Chairman, Soccerex

Before introducing the final speaker, Matt Lorenzo reflected that since its inception 17 years ago, Soccerex had continued to get bigger and better. Tony Martin the Chairman of Soccerex then provided the final part of the Closing Ceremony. He opened by stating the football is the most important and richest game in the world and that Soccerex had a part to play in providing a platform for the discussion about the future sustainability of the sport. Martin detailed that Deloitte’s estimated that European Football Clubs currently had a turnover of €20billion, a five-fold increase in the last 20 years, a figure which excluded international football and associated products. He added that over the next two days there would be sessions which would provide insights into the UEFA 2016 and 2020 tournaments, the FIFA 2014 and 2018 World Cups as well as The FA’s vision for football. He finished by detailing that following the European Forum, there was the African Forum in Durban in October with the Global Convention hosted by Rio de Janeiro in November.



Plain Strains and Auto-biographies (Act I)

Reading football biographies or autobiographies is fine as long as you don’t expect them to tell the whole truth about anyone. By their very nature, they have got to be selective. A biography is about a footballer so can never fully penetrate inside the subject’s thoughts. An autobiography is worse for the very reason that it can. In what kind of scrambled mess are your thoughts on a daily basis? So an autobiography is, at best, a selective look at things and, annoyingly, as most of them are ghosted, they’re still biographies after all. Because most top footballers do whatever great things they do by instinct and are pretty uneducated geezers, publishing houses daren’t let them loose on a keyboard as an actual autobiography would be something like Billy Casper’s ideal day from ‘Kes’, phonetic spelling, jumbled sentences and all.

There is also the problem that a biography is about a footballer’s whole life and most people are only really interested in the great matches bit. Who’s bothered if the hero scraped his BMW in a Tesco car park, except in a cruel way? I have a friend who has bought a house once owned by a famous footballer. He thinks it’s great until he has to visit the bog. Then his identification with the hero is all too real and somewhat depressing.

The reader’s age is very important too, especially if reading about a current footballer – which is most likely. Want to read about an ex-footballer? Sorry says the librarian, that book has been moved to the History Section. (This would include people like Brian Robson and Gary Lineker.) When you are young enough for it to still make a difference, you read about a famous footballer to find out two things;

1) How they did all those bits of amazing skill (so that you can copy them and become great too.)

2) How they are great people, having great lives, (so that you can be like them in that, too).

Added to this, it is only fair to point out, is the hope that you can copy them and be like them even as far as having to go out with all those beautiful women who know nothing about football but plenty about money, camera shots, fast cars and fame. Occupational hazard innit? Comes with the territory, Bruv.

More mature readers – and I class myself in this category, agewise at least – tend be a little more bitter and twisted, reading to find out two things:

1) How they did all those bits of amazing skill (and why you were unable to copy them and become great too.)

2) How they are not really great people, having great lives, (so that you can also feel better about missing out on all that.)

Added to this, it is only fair to point out, is the hope that since you weren’t able to copy them and be like them even as far as having to go out with all those beautiful women who know nothing about football but plenty about money, camera shots, fast cars and fame, you hope they have had to spend long, unpleasant hours afterwards in various clinics as a consequence. Then you can tut-tut about the wasted lives of such former greats as Jimmy Greaves, George Best and Paul John Gascoigne.

I think I have to blame Roy of the Rovers for much of this. Ok, ok, he wasn’t actually real, but he was almost real and became the model against whom every footie hero had to be measured. If not quite Art mirroring life, it was Art mirroring a kids’ comic. Roy Race was…


Graeme Garvey