Welcome to the cast list of the Ball is Round. Below you will be able to put some faces to the names…..Warning – enter at your own risk as some are not pretty!
There is a saying that everyone has a book in them. Well until 2005 I did not believe that for a minute but then through a combination of factors including enforced unemployment, a desire to visit the 2006 World Cup in Germany on a budget and a sheer bloody mindedness to tick off another one of life’s challenges I published my first book. It was a fans guide to the World Cup, with information that travelling fans actually may use. In the course of 6 months I visited every ground being used, stayed at hotels in each city, drank over 200 pints of German beer in 74 different bars and lost count on the number of sausages I ate all in the name of research. After failing to interest a publisher (after all there are only 2,376 at the last count) I learnt how to self publish. The result, a book that sold over 3,000 copies and was licenced in four other countries.
Since then I have written 6 books, all around travelling to football abroad. I am lucky that I get to travel for work, and can experience the delights of games such as the Eternal derby, FCK v Brondby and my personal favourite, AIK v Djurgården. I am lucky to have current players, managers, club owners and of course fans as friends.
But my real love is still on the grass roots game in this country. I’ve been a West Ham fan for over 30 years, saving up each month for my Season Ticket, and now taking the next generation of Fuller’s along too. But football fans in this country are an inconvenience at the top level. They moan when players are sold, they moan when games are changed for TV and god help us if the manager loses a game or two. Every home game I see a parade of new fans arrive, clutching their West Ham Megastore bags having purchased the official club toaster (that burns WHU on your bread), the dog basket or limited edition reserve team training top, oblivious to the greed they are perpetuating.
I’ve kept up my travels since 2005, visiting over 30 countries to watch football, and more importantly writing about what I find. I moved into the twenty first century and became all web 2.0 last year with a blog which I use to record my adventures but in words and vision, interspersed with the ramblings of a man who is falling out of love with Premier League football. So last season I vowed to visit all 24 Conference clubs, reporting on a game and generally enjoying football at a level where fans still matter. The feedback I got was amazing. People wanted to talk to you about the game, about places I had never heard of and about long forgotten local heroes. This season it is the turn of the Ryman Leagues as well as a few trips into Europe.
Nothing beats having a pint in a club bar before a game where supporters can mix freely with each other and the banter is good humoured. The pressures of promotion to the Football League is now such that some clubs will actively avoid it, knowing full well that it could spell financial disaster. Interestingly enough one of the significant up sides of Lewes’s relegation back to the Blue Square South this season is that they can once again keep their club house, with its views of the pitch open during the game and thus significantly add to those much needed matchday funds. My site is aimed at those fans who need a gentle push from their armchairs on a Saturday, or out of the pub where Sky Sports are filling up their quota with a game of the calibre of Stoke City versus Bolton Wanderers and onto the terraces of their local teams.
So remember, there is a book it everyone….just don’t chose to write one about travelling to watch football or me and you will be falling out!
In 2011 I started researching a book on Lewes FC and their 125th anniversary season which has had more highs and lows than Alton Towers and in November 2011 Dripping Yarns will be unleashed on the world.
Stuart Fuller is a well known and respected author of Football travel guides. His work included the only English language guide to the FIFA 2006 World Cup in Germany, simply known as “The Fans Guide” and two guides to European Football. His website – http://www.budgetairlinefootball.co.uk is one of the definitive sources of information on European football and he is often to be heard on radio and TV talking.
He wrote the most up to date and comprehensive fans guide to European football since the Rough Guide, named “European Football: A Fans Guide” which topped the Amazon charts in 2008 (albeit in the category European Football Stadiums!). His most recent publication, Passport to Football hit the shops in late 2009 and tells the tale of 30 memorable trips around the world to watch football. He is currently writing a book on Lewes FC’s 125th Anniversary season, Dripping Yarns and can be regularly found following the Rooks home and away. He splits his time between London and Copenhagen which allows him to get an insight on two contrasting footballing cultures.
Our other regular contributors
Owner of European Football Weekends, possibly the finest site on the internet bar this one of course. Danny’s mission in life is simple. Beer, travel, fun and an occasional 90 minutes of football. He coined the legendary motto of “A great day out spoilt by90 minutes of football”. Danny is often found in The Jungle or Rook Inn at The Dripping Pan, home of Lewes FC if he is not on one of his overseas jaunts. And if he is be sure that Big Deaksy or myself will be with him.
Danny has a knack of picking up some big names of the footballing world to be interviewed and this list includes Jonathan Wilson, James Richardson, Barry Glendenning and Dave Lamb (from Come Dine With Me of course) as his conquests. He regularly features content from leagues across Europe and has a fan network bigger than China. You can follow Danny on Twitter here.
Legside Lizzy“ and commentates on Test Match Sofa. Lizzy has been scoring every summer Saturday for 25 years and now runs a thriving colts section at Barnes CC. She is also a long time Middlesex member and her passion is the promotion and development of grassroots and county cricket. You can follow her on Twitter @Lizzy_Ammon.
Lizzy is covering the 2011 Cricket World Cup for us in her own daily reports, and will also provide weekly updates on all the cricketing news during the forthcoming domestic season. Lizzy is also often seen following the mighty Rooks if she isn’t on the piss or playing jolly hockey sticks.
Mark is our Welsh football expert, covering a game a weekend for us from all levels of football. Whether it is a game in Port Talbot or a visit to the Millennium Stadium be sure that Mark will be there. Visit www.markpitman1.com for links to all blogs, news stories, features, reports and opinion as the big Welsh football news stories break. You can also follow Mark Pitman at www.facebook.com/1markpitman and www.twitter.com/markpitman1.
He also writes regular features for the WalesOnline Magazine Sports Blog and for the award-winning www.inbedwithmaradona.com and is the Press and Media Officer at Welsh Premier League club Port Talbot Town and have travelled extensively with the club since 1994, including the clubs inaugural European campaign in 2010 against TPS Turku of Finland in the UEFA Europa League.
Our man across the pond brings us the quirks of trying to watch the beautiful game at 7am on a Saturday in a dark bar in New York City. A die hard Torquay United AND Manchester United fan who missed out on the dream game when the Gulls lost to Crawley this year in the FA Cup and thus went to Old Trafford instead. Very knowledgeable about 1980′s Division Three fixtures and little else. When in London he can often be found in the Market Porter in Borough Market. You can follow Luge on Twitter here.
Author of our Daggers Diary as he follows his beloved Dagenham & Redbridge around League One in a division he thought was impossible to dream about when they were playing Grays Athletic away five years ago. Was blissfully unaware that football even existed until just before my 9th birthday, when he received a book on the 1982 World Cup. From that moment, he’s been hooked. As well as contributing to The Ball Is Round, he also write an occasional piece for the travellers tales page for the Dagenham & Redbridge programme.
Our newest and youngest member of the team, Abigail lives and breaths football. A massive Swansea fan since the long gone days of the Vetch Field, Abi is bringing us the highs and lows of their assault on the nPower Championship as they seek promotion to the promised lands of the Premier League. You can follow Abi on Twitter here.