Football book review: The Away Game by Matthew Hall

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The Away Game is the 20-year anniversary edition to Matthew Hall’s best-selling 2000 book, where Hall takes the reader behind the scenes and into the dressing rooms of Australia’s most pivotal footballers. 

Australia’s relationship with football has never been a match made in heaven, but The Away Game is a snapshot of the highs of our glory days from 2000 to 2006. It is a snapshot of who made Australian football what is it, and why some things within the Australian game are as they are now. 

But most importantly, it paints a picture for every kid from nondescript Australian suburbs that shaped a sport within our beautiful country. 

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In this 20th-anniversary edition, Hall added an updated introduction which goes into depth on how Australian football is constantly changing and evolving – but not always for the benefit of the sport. 

Currently Australian football is at one of its lowest points in recent history – with only one Aussie playing abroad in one of Europe’s top six leagues – and our Socceroos merely making up the numbers in the last two World Cup finals. 

Yet despite Hall’s interviews taking place pre-2006, their comments relate to today’s state of football better than ever. 

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Name the guy, and Hall was able to get their story. 

Hall sat down and spoke to some of the most influential Australian footballers of all time, from every generation. 

The Away Game speaks with the late great Joe Marston, one of the pioneers of Australian football to go abroad and make a career overseas. 

Hall then hears from stars such as Adrian Alston, who played in England for Cardiff City and Luton Town in the 1970’s, to Craig Johnston and his 271 appearances for Liverpool in the late 70’s and early 80’s. 

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Then Hall moves on to another generation, highlighted by players such as Mark Bosnich and the Vidmar brothers, speaking on their own personal successes, but along with their national team frustrations. 

But finally, Hall finishes up with Australia’s glory days – our 2000-2006 period where we finally qualified for that World Cup – The Away Game leaves no stone unturned. 

Names such as Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka take you behind the scenes of their footballing journey, speaking about how crazy Croatian journalists made Viduka’s life living hell, to Liverpool’s heroic UEFA Champions League victory over AC Milan being Kewell’s “lowest point” of his career. 

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A terrific read that educates the average Aussie on Australia’s rich footballing history, and why football continues to have such highs and such lows in the land Down Under.  

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Cameron Ottenhoff
Sport, media and communications student at Flinders University in Adelaide. I was forced to hang the boots up at a young age after discovering I'm no good at sport, so now I just talk about it instead.

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