‘Above Head Height’ written by James Brown, published by Quercus in 2017.
Bought from Archway Bookshop in Axminster £8.99.
Above Head Height is a book that takes you through James Brown’s football life from playing football on the streets, local parks and school fields in Headingley, Leeds to many five, eight and varying a side games all over the world but mainly in his adopted London home.
It is about camaraderie between players who turn up each week through a special bond of commitment, friendship and knowing each others skill level but often not knowing anything about their after game life. Apart from the games, a nod as you pass in the street can often be the only other contact with the players.
There are some great descriptions of the kit, it’s storage and the arena’s that James has played on. He also comments on the rules and how they should be changed and the goals that are remembered for life. How you can be Messi, Ronaldo or Kane for a brief moment and how age dictates changes to your fitness level and style.
The book is also an insight into the history of the growth of five a side football into a multi million pound industry that has flowered and has to some degree replaced Sunday football as a mates sport because it is played 24/7 somewhere in the UK to suit our busy lives.
James also explains how football, particularly five a side, has been a constant in his life seeing him through addictions and relationship break ups. It is best to put Jame’s life in context by quoting the short biopic on the back cover of the book: ‘James Brown worked on the NME, founded Loaded, Jack and Leeds, Leeds magazines, and was Editor-in-Chief of British CQ. He is a media entrepreneur, journalist and hosts a weekly show on TalkSport. He is now down to three matches a week.’
What is moving and very personal is the writing about the death of James Kyllo who was a constant in his Five a side life, the one who booked the pitches, organised the teams provided the statistics. The glue that for a long period of time kept them together and it is reminiscent of ‘We are Sunday League’ previously reviewed. The world needs James Kyllo’s.
This was a great book that caught my imagination and emotions.