Bicycle Kicks hits the bookshelves
One York City fan's tale of following the season by bike.
Being a football fan is a hard life unless you follow one of the glamour teams like Manchester United or Chelsea. Your Saturdays are filled with disappointments as your team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory time and again.
That's the life, according to writer Simon Hood, of a York City fan, but in 2009 Hood decided to make life even harder for himself by following York City round the country by bike. The book of that journey, Bicycle Kicks, has just been published by GJB Publishing.
Hood packed in his job, gave up his flat, bought two of the same Kona Sutra bike by accident, sold one of them and set off. “I steeled myself to watch my football team play forty-six matches in he worst professional league in the world,” he writes in the introduction. “In comparison, the cycling would be easy.”
It wasn't, of course.
Just two days into the trip, Hood's bike broke and Ridgeback stepped in with a replacement.
Shortly afterwards, a fixture reschedule at the beginning of the trip meant he had to cover 300 miles in three days. That might not sound much if you're a whippet-thin sportive mile-eater, but for a not-very-fit former production coordinator for a film set company on a bike with 30kg of panniers, it was a bit of a challenge.
But he made it, and so we get to read his lovingly despairing game descriptions.
To a non-fan, low quality football is an agonizingly tedious game to watch. We can thrill at the sheer skill of a top international game, but watching 22 underskilled boofheads chase a bladder round a field leaves us cold.
But low quality football is a great game to write about and – from the bits we've dipped into so far – Hood writes with sympathy for his perpetual underdogs, humour and a keen eye for detail.
Between matches, Hood rides his bike through the English countryside with great relish, not a few pub stops and much unplanned reliance on the comfort of strangers.