Football Book Review: The Time of my Football Life (or how I spent my long service leave)

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David Picken shows how you can take a simple passion for football and turn it into something extraordinary with his novel.

The Time of my Football Life (or how I spent my long service leave).

By David Picken

Picken gives a personal recount of his time at the 2006 World Cup in Germany when his long service leave corresponded with the World Cup dates. 

Growing up in England, Picken’s first introduction to World Cup mania was in 1966 when England both hosted and won the competition.

Despite the close proximity, he never got his chance to attend any of those games.

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Forty years later, that wrong was finally corrected when his long service leave at Deakin University coincidentally corresponded with the World Cup. Lady Luck really made her presence known this for Picken with his accommodation also sorted noting he had friends in Germany he could stay with.

The only real issue Picken notes were too conflicting parts of himself trying to decide to support England or Australia.

While England had qualified for the tournament, it was the first time Australia had qualified in 32 years when John Aloisi scored the winning penalty against Uraguay in November 2005.

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He resolved to write the adventures he had waited so long for down.

Picken’s recount of his time at the World Cup takes us throughout Germany: from Munich, to Stuttgart and Berlin and many-points in-between. While also keeping a record, down to most intricate details, about each game he attended including the Italy v France final.

To put it bluntly, The Time of my Football Life can be summed up as a story by someone deeply passionate and excited about football. If you want to live vicariously through someone else’s World Cup experiences this is a book for you.

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Part of the novel’s charm is its simplicity. There is no colluded language or pretence but instead, the book reads like a football fan telling other football fans his experiences.

Picken goes beyond a minute by minute report of each match and tries to include as much travel information as he can. They show up as reviews about pubs, explanations of how the travel systems work and descriptions of the people he encounters.

It is difficult not to like the author for his style and subject matter but there are some shortcomings with the book.

The structure is a little unpolished but that can be accounted to the anecdotal style of writing. There are also times where the chapters seem to overlap because of Picken’s formulaic explanation of each match.

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If first-person narratives are also not your favourite style to read than this is one you might struggle with. While any story of this nature will always be anecdotal, there were a few times where I felt the tales were a little forced.

Nevertheless, the book provides a valuable and entertaining insight into an event most of us football fans have not had access too. With that, I’m giving The Time of my Football three out of five penalties.

My rating: three penalties out of five

You can purchase this book right now at Fair Play Publishing by clicking here.

To view all book reviews on The Football Sack, please click here.

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season