is author Nick Hornby's (About a Boy
, High Fidelity
) first book and is an autobiographical look at being a sports fan and all that entails in the context of growing up supporting Arsenal FC in England. Each chapter covers a single match attended between the late 60s and the early 90s, and relates to Hornby's own childhood and life experiences. As much a memoir as a sports book, it was extremely well received and won several awards.
It has been since adapted into two movies, both romantic comedies, with one made in Britain and released in 1997 which was written by Hornby himself starring Colin Firth
and a second adaptation starring Jimmy Fallon
and Drew Barrymore
which transplanted the story to Boston
and replaced football (soccer) with baseball and Arsenal FC with the Boston Red Sox.
- Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: How Hornby got started following football. After his parents' divorce, his father started taking him to football to spend time together.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The whole book is one.
- Down to the Last Play: Actually occurred in real-life as Michael Thomas scored for Arsenal in a 2-0 win that won them the league.
- Same goes for the American version. The Boston Red Sox were down by three games in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series against their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, and trailed 4-3 in the ninth inning of Game 4. In Game 7, the Sox pulled out all the stops and hammered the Yankees 10-3, moving on to the World Series. The Sox then swept the St. Louis Cardinals and won their first World Series in 86 years. The movie naturally maximizes the drama by having everything after the Game 4 comeback merely glazed over via narration.
- Every Year They Fizzle Out: Hornby was a fan through some of Arsenal's leanest years in terms of trophies won.
- The American version, naturally.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: Thoroughly averted of course, this a book by an obsessive fan about his favourite team.
- The 2005 film plays this straight with its climactic scene: No one would've been scalping tickets in the eighth inning (and virtually every stadium closes off attendance after the first several innings), Lindsey somehow survives a feet-first 30 foot fall from Fenway's "Triangle" wall, is shown on TV running on the field (TV broadcasts are mandated not to show fans running on the field, in order to discourage that type of behavior), and is allowed to carry a brief conversation with Ben before being taken away by security (apparently, Talking Is a Free Action at Fenway Park)
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The American remake was originally written to end on a bittersweet, "There's always next year" note. But then the Red Sox actually won the championship after pulling off the greatest Miracle Rally in baseball history so naturally the plot was quickly rewritten to accommodate it. The final scene was actually filmed on the field with the real Red Sox celebrating in the background and you can actually see stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore in some of the news footage of the on-field celebration (the look on Fallon's face? Legitimate. He's an actual Red Sox fan in real life).
- Naturally applies to the book as well.
- A Touch of Class, Ethnicity and Religion: Explores Britain's class divide and how football can both overcome it and succumb to it.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Both films, especially the British one. Similarly, the American version exaggerates what hardcore Red Sox fans believe and how they act (namely, few Sawx fans actually believed that the supposed "Curse of the Bambino" was actually why the team kept fizzling out year after year).