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Among the Fans – a sports book about watching the watchers

Here’s another book for my to-read list and I’m going to blog about it so I don’t forget. I like the look of Among the Fans by Patrick Collins – reviewed in The Guardian by sportswriter Richard Williams. It’s a book about watching sports fans as they are watching (or not watching) sport. Fans of tennis, cricket, football, horse racing and rugby are gently analyzed it seems.

Although it is subtitled A Year of Watching the Watchers, this is not really a sociological survey of the people who watch sport, and thank goodness for that. Instead, it is an entertaining perambulation by a man who can be gentle and affectionate – Priestley and Betjeman occasionally come to the reader’s mind – and who notices things: he takes a particular delight in finding a voucher for a chocolate and almond torte among the prizes at a point-to-point raffle in East Sussex, describes a typical Twickenham crowd as “slightly the better for drink”, and is astonished, on reluctantly ending a lengthy personal boycott of Wimbledon, to discover that the tournament has transformed itself, shedding its old haughtiness. But then, every so often, you are reminded that you would not want to get on his wrong side.

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