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State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game Reviews

State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin

State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game

Michael Calvin

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Century
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publication date: 15 Aug 2018
ISBN: 9781780896311

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDAward-winning author of The Nowhere Men, Living on the Volcano and No Hunger in Paradise returns with his magnum opus on the state of modern footballFirst he revealed the extraordinary lives of football scouts in The Nowhere Men.

  • The Sunday TimesBooks of the Year
5 stars out of 5
25 Nov 2018

"thought-provoking and well wrought"

The first book to treat football as a serious cultural and social subject was Arthur Hopcraft’s The Football Man, published in 1968. Fifty years later, Calvin has emulated Hopcraft as “a reporter trying to reach to the heart of what football is”. The result is thought-provoking and well wrought, with a particularly fine chapter on Jeff Astle, a 1960s and 1970s striker who suffered terminal brain damage from heading the ball.



4 stars out of 5
29 Sep 2018

"‘Football holds a mirror to ourselves,’ Michael Calvin asserts in State of Play. Modern football is angrier, more brutal, more unequal and simply more relentless than ever before."

Yet Calvin’s rounded portrayal of the modern game — raw vignettes garnered from the rarefied elite of the sport to non-league matches which, like the game itself, are by turns surprising, uplifting and dispiriting — shows that yesterday was not always better. The standard of play at the top of English club football has never been better. Women’s football, though it has never completely recovered from the Football Association’s 50-year ban from 1921 to 1971, is buoyant. Though huge obstacles remain, progress is being made to combat homophobia and racism. And England’s World Cup campaign offered a glimpse of football as something more. ‘Sometimes it’s easier to be negative than positive, or to divide than to unite, but England: let’s keep this unity alive,’ said England’s defender Kyle Walker.