Another Bloody Saturday: A Journey to the Heart and Soul of Football, by Mat Guy
Something compels Mat Guy to get in the car and travel hundreds of miles across the UK to watch football matches.
Along the way, he has several close-encounters with evil drug-crazed team mascots (not the kids accompanying the players onto the field, but the other kind), buys football programmes at a rate that would make Dave Roberts or Miles McClagan proud, and drinks cups of tea.
Let’s start at the beginning. Mat’s beloved Salisbury City was, as Wikipedia tells us, “removed from the Football Conference after failing to pay its debts.” That meant no more football at Victoria Park, and a severance from a lifetime of memories.
What happens when your club disappears? It’s a question most hope to never have to answer. For those of us who have seen our club vanish, usually thanks to financial mismanagement, we’re left feeling hollow. How can you support a new team? How can you bring yourself to support a team you barracked against not so long ago?
How can you fall in love again?
Another Bloody Saturday is about Mat’s search for a new love, what he calls “that Victoria Park feeling”.
(Note to readers: if your surname is Park, don’t name your daughter “Victoria”. Because then a “Victoria Park feeling” takes on a completely different meaning.)
Mat is joined in his travels by Emma, Effie and various other friends-and-relations. They all have their own motivations for seeking something deeper out of football – something beyond the “out of wallet” experience that top level sport offers families these days.
Tea in a real mug, for example! A discount at the club shop! A PA that doesn’t pump out ear-puncturing music at half-time! (I made that last one up. It’s not in the book. It’s a mere fantasy.)
Each chapter is dedicated to a football road trip. Mat and co attend European, league, non-league and international matches.
Mat charts his own football identity, interlinked with his own family history. For Emma, his most consistent travel companion, football is also a big part of personal healing.
Another Bloody Saturday is unlike other “season in review” books. The wonderful The Bromley Boys and I don’t know what it is but I love it follow one team, albeit at very different ends of the scale. While there is one team that regularly pops up in Another Bloody Saturday, the book is a personal journey into whether or not there is meaning in a sport that has been commercialised beyond recognition.
Another Bloody Saturday: A Journey to the Heart and Soul of Football by Mat Guy is available now from Luath Press, Amazon, and Waterstones.