Simon Kuper in the European Review of Books:
Before the 1990s, “football book” was considered an oxymoron. Down at the bottom of the literary totem pole, even below self-help books sold in airports, was football writing.
When I was growing up between England and the Netherlands, I read what there was. Most football books in those days were terrible, ghostwritten players’ autobiographies, aimed at nine-year-old fantasists like myself, which said things like, “I was lucky enough to score the winning goal in the Cup final, so it was like a dream come true.” So I grew up mostly reading cricket and baseball books instead, and they helped me see what football writing could be.
Cricket had always been the game of educated, upper-class literary Britain, favourite sport of the boarding schools, where most British writers went.