Following his first book, Another Bloody Saturday: A Journey to the Heart and Soul of Football, author Mat Guy has continued his exploration of the ‘beautiful game’ in Minnows United; an ode to the unsung heroes of football
matches taking place out of the limelight, all over the world.
In doing so he found himself, on a cold April afternoon in 2016, at Shielfield Park, to see The Wee ‘gers take on Clyde.
‘Everything about that day sung to me, and revealed the true spirit of football – from the people behind the bar in the social club, to the supporters of both teams who contained their dread at the thought of the outcome. For clyde, the slim hope of promotion was fading away. For Berwick, the spectre of relegation loomed. But despite that, their gallows humour suggested no matter the score, they’d be there the following season.’
‘The Wee gers’ unique position of being in England, but playing in Scotland, brought me to Berwick, but the warmth of the people I met made me dedicate a chapter of the book to the experience.’
Berwick Rangers take their place in the book alongside fellow gems from the lower leagues of Britain, such as Port Talbot, Accrington Stanley, and
‘However, the book looks further afield as well, exploring teams representing countries that, to FIFA and the Un, don’t officially exist. I also travelled to remote parts of the globe to experience football not only on the fringes of the game, but on the fringes of the world. On my travels I’ve watched matches in Iceland, interviewed members of the Tibetan Women’s Football team, and explored the impact of football in war-torn Palestine. It is a book about the unsung heroes of football.’
‘To me, the true spirit of football lies far from the bright lights of the Premier League, where smaller crowds, or sometimes no crowds expose the true
devotion that the game inspires. ‘With Minnows United, I wanted to look further afield – though I had no idea it would lead me to stories in the gaza Strip, the tiny principality of Luxembourg, and the exiled communities of Sudan, The Chagos Islands, and Sri Lanka.
‘But wherever I explored, from Berwick to Bhutan, the underlying passions remained a constant – the devotion to your team transcending relative
Minnows United is a celebration of the people that really do make the sport what it is, and is released by Edinburgh based Luath Press. Out Dec 11 through Amazon, Waterstones, and the publishers themselves.