Pie Eyed!

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Title > 92 Pies  Author > Tom Dickinson
367 Pages
Backline Press

Released 2011

I rate this book – 3.5/5  – would have been 4 or 4.5 if more up to date upon release.

Rating 5- Classic, one of my fav books of all time, to be read more than once.
Rating 4- Great read, entertaining and compelling throughout.
Rating 3- Good read, not quite a ‘can’t put down’ but good none the less.
Rating 2- A little dull, hard to get through, couldn’t recommend.
Rating 1- Awful, couldn’t finish it, lost interest.

I read a good chunk of ’92’ pies over a long weekend in Berlin recently.

Clearly, ‘my type’ of book, being a ground hopper myself. Tom took on the mammoth and daunting task of visiting all 92 English football league grounds to watch a game during a season, 2008-9, and eating a pie at every venue!

Tom is bizarrely, a Hertfordshire born Bolton Wanderers fans, rarer than a Man United fan from Manchester!

It was a very easy read, and well written, an ideal holiday companion.

What was not clear was why it took until 2011 for the book to be released, because it certainly does lose a sense  of immediacy, as I read about his visits to clubs/grounds that have perhaps now dropped into the non league, or players that have long since moved to other clubs.
I read about ‘Stern John’ for instance playing for Derby (I think) who subsequently moved to my team Palace, but has long since departed Palace.
Things move quickly in football, and he really to have got this book released earlier, so I’m not sure why this didn’t happen, perhaps let down by a publisher? as the excellent backline press eventually released it for him.

Also, I spotted one glaring error, perhaps they were others? but having had 2 years to get the book out, these should have been noticed before the book was released.
Apparently, according to Tom, Hereford United have never played higher than the bottom rung of the league, the old Division Four, now League Two. Not true, I saw Palace play Hereford in the 1970s in Division Three. Also he thought very highly of Highfield Road the old Coventry City Stadium, whereas I’d visited it many times and never ever thought it better than medicore, certainly their new (ish) Ricoh Arena knocks spots off the old ground. But hey, I guess its all about opinions.

There is also a sense of repetition about some of the chapters, and I personally found it a little irritating at times, that he’d occasionally arrive late, or depart early from games, so not watching the complete 90 minutes (As an anorak I like to see the entire game!). Also, although we get full details on the type and quality of pies at each venue, perhaps it would have been nice to have some comment on the quality of match programmes.

Having said that, it IS a very good read, there are many amusing incidents, the Asian  ground hopper in Liverpool for instance, who likes to photograph his toy soldiers outside the top grounds of England!
The group of drunk Germans at Upton Park, and Tom’s attempts to ingratiate himself with the locals by pretending to know their players, or when he tries the local accent, and fails! 🙂
He also encounters the sometimes tribal and violent aspect of football fans, with brawling at a local game in Greater Manchester as rivals Stockport and Oldham come to blows, quite literally.

Tom finishes at The Reebok home of his err ‘local’ club Bolton Wanderers!!! Surrounded by 40 of his family and friends, I almost wanted to have been there myself to  pat him on the back for his intrepid trip around England, no mean feat, well done Tom 🙂

I look forward to 42 ‘Scotch’ Pies !

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