Gonzo journalism has been around for a few years yet the question “What exactly does it mean?” is still asked. Many writers believe that objectivity in journalism is a myth, therefore use the ‘gonzo’ style to write subjectively. It disregards the ‘polished’ edited product favored by the general media and strives for a more gritty approach. It’s a style which was first used by US writer Hunter S. Thompson who explained that “Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can’t be objective about Nixon.” Football mad John Nicholson uses that style of writing in his new book We Ate All the Pies – How Football Ate Britain Whole and poses a simple question which no one has bothered to ask before – Why is football so damn popular?
Football is Britain’s big love. It has consumed the nation totally. Drawing on his life as a devoted football obsessive, John delves into the culture that surrounds the game to discover how and why it has got under the skin of the British like no other sport. From the role of booze and food to the importance of merchandise, Nicholson also considers how football helps define who we are, how we behave and how it affects our relationships in life.
A Middlesbrough fan for over fourty years, John was brought up on Teesside, enjoys being Northern and watching all levels of football. Since 2000 he has been writing up to three times a week for the popular website www.football365.com. He has worked for the Daily Record on their much missed Row Z pullout and on the Mirror.co.uk reviewing Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows in between bouts of heroic drinking. Some people think he has a brilliant, original mind, others consider him little short of a total moron and yet more say, ‘who’s that drunken hairy bloke over there and what’s he doing to that dog?’
Nicholson explores the history of the football shirt in style and design, how and why sponsorship became the norm, the culture of food inside the ground, around the stadium, in the pubs and clubs and how the modern trend of fine dining changed the match day experience. He then goes on to explain why prawn sandwiches are the perfect expression of the class politics of football in Britain. From the crucial role booze and food takes, to the importance of shirts and merchandise, John also considers how football helps define who we are, who we think we are, how we behave, how it affects our relationships in life and how the game is used by people to vent their everyday frustrations and emotions.
He goes on to recount the history of football on television and how it changed perceptions of teams and countries, in particular the 1970 World Cup television revolution and just what part the game takes in the intricate complexities of national identity, not least of being a Teessider, Northern and English, in that order! This is a unique, funny, warm and thought provoking excursion into our football lives, told in Nicholson’s trademark offbeat, powerful and irreverent style.
Reviews – ‘Two words guaranteed to make any piece of writing worth reading: John and Nicholson…..even when you don’t agree with him you sort of wish you did. In fact, you wonder if you even agree with yourself any more’ – Sid Lowe, The Guardian
‘Johnny has ideas about football you didn’t know you had until you find yourself nodding along to every word. Except the words that drive you mental, of course. But the beauty of Johnny is that you love those words too’ – Sarah Winterburn, Editor, Football365
‘John is often compared to Hunter S Thompson, to Vivian Stanshall and to Bill Bailey, but comparisons are erroneous if they suggest that he is anything other than a 100 percent original’ – Steve Anglesey, Editor, Mirror.co.uk
Title: We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole
Author: John Nicholson