Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day, Football And Family Ties...

As you may or may not know, Sunday just past, the 15th of June was Father's Day in the U.K.

 Like the dutiful son that I am, I was chatting to my Dad yesterday and he inspired me to write a little blog. Of all the things I have to be grateful to my parents for, possibly the two most important are my Mum's successful efforts to teach me to read before I'd started school, something which (for a short time at least) gave me an edge, and in the long term, gave me a life-time passion. 

For my Dad's part it was buying, collecting and being surrounded by books. Now I'm not talking about being brought up in a house that resembled a library by any stretch of the imagination. Our's was a working class world, growing up in Brighton with lots of siblings (five!!), council housing in the early years, a basic but sound upbringing.  Whilst I never had a feeling of 'going without' (mostly, I can't help thinking, because Mum and Dad made sure we never felt that) we were not well off, but in the bigger picture of things, we were much better off than many people growing up in the sixties and seventies. 

But my Dad always bought books. 

There was nothing particularly enlightening or politically motivating, no great thinkers, no classical literature, but there were always books. He liked thrillers, novels, books about ships, books about history, 'coffee table' picture books, books about Brighton, our family's home town for many generations. I learned a valuable lesson, buy what YOU like. Reading doesn't have to take you to a higher state of humanity, it doesn't need to make you a better person. It can just entertain you. 

So, whilst talking to my Dad yesterday he recommended a book to me; Mad Man by Dick Knight.

My Dad and brother have been life-long Brighton & Hove Albion FC fans, (I'm the black sheep, I went for West Ham United) and this book is the story of the revival of a football club. When Dick Knight an advertising executive, took over the club they were on the brink of extinction. Their traditional home, The Goldstone Ground, where I spent many a wonderful Saturday afternoon with my Dad and brother in the 70s and 80s, was sold out from under them,  they were two games away from relegation from the Football league. Dick Knight turned them around.

Now at the moment, Football (soccer to you Aussies) is quite a big story, but this book tells it from the bottom, the grass roots world of what football is, local team spirit, love for your local colours, true sport. I haven't read this book yet, but if it's good enough for my Dad, it's good enough for me.

Happy Father's Day to Dads everywhere. 
Stevie at B.L.M.

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