Review: Saturday, 3pm by Daniel Gray


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I have to admit, I’m not the target audience for this book. At best, I am a casual supporter of football (the English sort, what the Americans call soccer) – I’ve been to a few games, vaguely know how my local team are doing and occasionally catch a bit of Match of the Day (although the theme tune usually signals bedtime). Therefore, I approached this book with a little bit of trepidation. Honestly, I chose it because it fitted in with a reading challenge category (that was then superseded) so I almost sacked it off entirely, but it’s short and it has a nice cover so I thought I’d give it a go.

So, you know, all of the initial enthusiasm.

Saturday, 3pm is a love letter to football. In the book, Gray chooses fifty (fifty!) different aspects of the game that he enjoys and writes a beautiful little essay about it – everything from slide tackles to the man selling pies outside the stadium. I have a theory that if you meet someone who is genuinely passionate about a topic – ANY topic – they make it interesting just by talking about it with love and enthusiasm. That’s exactly what Gray does in this book. His love for football is so evident that he makes even the most mundane subjects come to life.

I’ll be honest, some bits didn’t grip me as much as others and I found that this was the sort of book I had to read in short chunks, but luckily the way that it’s written lends itself to this perfectly. It made me look at football in a completely different way and I loved how evocative the writing was.

I had one small gripe: there’s absolutely no mention of the women’s game. Perhaps the author has a personal preference for the men’s game but I thought that as such a fan he might have enjoyed at least watching England ladies – especially as they are one of the top teams in the world. Gray writes some lovely passages about how his young daughter is showing the first signs of being interested in the beautiful game so in no way is his writing sexist, but if you’re going to write about the joy of seeing kids have a kickabout in the park you could probably mention the heart breaking own goal during stoppage time in the quarter finals of the 2015 Canadian World Cup that saw England out of the tournament.
Overall, this book wasn’t exactly for me, but I still found it enjoyable. It would make the perfect present for any football fan, and could be a good choice for a Father’s Day gift.

Rating: 6.5/10

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley! I also read this book as part of the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 #34 Read a book with a month or day of the week in the title.

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