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Manchester United Ruined My Wife by David Blatt

Release date: 01st May, 2004
Publisher: Parrs Wood Press

List Price: £8.95
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You Save: £1.79 (19%)
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The majority of football fans find the concept of supporting any team other than their home town side absolutely inconceivable, abhorrent, even. There are exceptions which can just about make support of a non-home town side acceptable: if you're born overseas or in a city without a football club, for example, but under no circumstances should the genuine football follower be a glory hunter, swapping allegiance on a season by season basis.

As the reader absorbs the preliminary information given in the first few pages of Manchester United Ruined my Wife, it would appear that David Blatt (born London, 1949), has handed the non-Manchester United supporter another stick with which to beat Red Devils' followers who do not hail from Old Trafford's immediate environs.

The first game Blatt saw was the clash between his nearest club, Leyton Orient, and Brighton, but he remained unconvinced by the O's appeal. During the course of the next two years, his father took him to watch Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham, but the fervent supporter's passion which has burned within the author for nearly 50 years did not alight until 1956 when he saw a United team, with Duncan Edwards to the fore, visit Highbury.

Following the Arsenal game, Blatt was hooked, although he had to wait until 1967 before actually visiting Old Trafford, rising at 5am to meet up with other members of the Manchester United (London & District) Supporters Club for the arduous coach journey north. Following United's 5-2 win over Leicester that day, the early Saturday morning procedure became the norm for Blatt who peppers his tale with an array of amusing anecdotes which will be familiar to anyone who has spent a long time travelling to a football match by coach.

Throughout the book, two particular aspects of the narrative combine to make the experience of the travelling fan appropriately realistic. First, the language, even in the author's asides, could, at all times, be considered industrial and second, when Blatt celebrates a goal, even on the page of the book, he sounds like one of those crazy Brazilian commentators who prolong their pronunciation of the word 'goal' as if to extend the joy of the ball hitting the back of the net: Ggggoooooooaaaaaaaallllll!!!!

Blatt became a United regular at the same time as football hooliganism was rearing its ugly head in Britain and he describes several instances where he became an unwitting victim; the incident where his newly-knitted red and white scarf is nicked by Manchester City supporters is potentially chilling but ultimately very funny. Nevertheless, the violence encountered by Manchester United supporters during European trips in the 1980's was as bad as anything seen back home and Blatt was lucky to escape relatively unscathed on several occasions.

Ultimately, Blatt was to become more involved with fans as an active member of the Football Supporters federation and with small shareholders at Old Trafford through Shareholders United. Temporarily casting the need to tell a continuously amusing story to one side, he describes in great detail his modest role in defeating the proposed takeover of his beloved club by Rupert Murdoch.

Manchester United supporters will love this book which builds to the high point in the club's history, five years ago, when they won the European Cup with two goals in injury time. But can the author be accused of glory hunting? The ABU supporter may think so but the MU supporter won't care.

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