20110806

Man who ate all the pies restores the appetite for football too



Who ate all the pies? Tom Dickinson, in fact: one at each of the 92 Premier and Football League grounds. He assessed the merits of them all and has written a book about them.  But Jeremy Culley found there is more to 92 Pies than a gourmet’s guide to match-day snacks…



With contemporary English football frequently tarnished by accusations that it has become too much of a commercial exercise, weighed down by the inflated wages paid to Premier League stars, many people have questioned whether the game has lost touch with its audience.

Tom Dickinson is one of those people. Stuck in the uncomfortable interim between graduating university and commencing a career, a throwaway comment made on a casual night in would cost him thousands of pounds and a year of his life.

Bolton-supporting Dickinson insisted he could watch a football match at all 92 league grounds during the 2008-09 season, eating a pie at each one, so a friend would admit that Sam Allardyce is a ‘misunderstood tactical genius’.

This book, 92 Pies, chronicles this adventure with humour and anecdote, with each city and stadium, from Plymouth to Carlisle, given a quick review from an outsider’s perspective.

On his considerable journey, Dickinson found football’s traditional virtues to be alive and well, although all too often missing amid the glitz and glamour of the Premier League. Rather, he was more often charmed by lower league venues such as Morecambe’s Christie Park and Bradford City’s Valley Parade, than the state-of-the-art arenas where the world’s best regularly parade.

92 Pies not only intelligently analyses the state of the English game, and the relationship between the fans and clubs, but also offers an endearing insight into a mind of a young man clearly obsessed with the game and its social contexts.

Any football fan would empathise with the sentiments expressed by Dickinson, making this book compelling reading, not least to see what the Hertfordshire-born author makes of your club, but also to restore your faith in the game.

92 Pies is published by Blackline Press

Buy 92 Pies direct from Amazon.

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