Friday, 26 February, 2021 in Book Reviews, Books

Into Books Review: Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Modern Football by Daniel Gray

Book: Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Modern Football
Author: Daniel Gray
Publisher: Bloomsbury

There really is no substitute for attending a football match, it doesn’t matter if you support Barcelona or St Rochs juniors, there is nothing quite like the buzz of a day out at the football. There is so much more to 22 players trying to win a match. While TV stations have invested heavily in bringing a very polished finished art-form into our homes, the drama and romance that accompanies the live theatre of football has been left silent. The global pandemic has ensured that stadiums throughout the UK have been left empty, leaving the beautiful game as a product captured on camera and beamed around the country to be framed on our TV sets and streaming devices. 

The excitement and passion of a fervent support has been muted and the stadium seats left with advertisements and company slogans. Over half a century after Jock Stein shared his visionary insight with the world, the words of a footballing genius ahead of his time coursing through our veins to the beating heart of football; the  supporters. Simply put “Football without fans is nothing”. 

In an attempt to find a short term fix to the gaping void of a match day spent at home, I was whisked away on a nostalgic trip to Saturday, 3pm. This charming book by Daniel Gray is a heart-warming collection of love letters that spark to life all those understated (and before 2020, under appreciated) joys of taking in a football match. Daniel Gray brings to life the sights, smells and the atmosphere of a football match down the park, at your local club and in the cauldron of the biggest stadiums on derby day.   He captures that genuine passion that comes with being part of a global movement, no matter how big or small a match or attendance is. 

It is easy to forget the impact football has on the local community, mind and soul.  Newspaper columns and television reports can be quick to highlight the moments that give the sporting fan-base a bad name, however, football is a community spirit that is difficult to replicate in almost any other environment. The familiar face of those fellow fans travelling to and from a match. The deep discussion on the walk back to the car and the euphoric embrace that follows an important goal or, even better, a win. 

My first journey with writer and broadcaster Gray took me to the battlefields of Spain with the Scotsmen who fought in the International Brigades when their open eyes could see no other way, in Homage to Caledonia (The Scots who fought Franco). That spirit of camaraderie is echoed again with his beautifully constructed Saturday, 3pm; and during these most difficult times helped rekindle my affection for football & every finite detail that goes along with it.

Martin Donaldson

Saturday, 3pm is available to buy from the publishers, Bloomsbury.

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