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The Geezer's Guide To Football
Dougie Brimson (Mainstream 1999, £7.99)
I've a confession to make, I can't resist guides. Beer guides, food guides, holiday guides, whatever. I love 'em. For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone could book an expensive holiday and not spend a few quid on a guide that could be the making of the trip. However, enough people borrow mine, so there must be quite a few.

So what about "The Geezers Guide"? It purports to be a book for supporters, or wannabe Geezers. A primer for the potential supporter. It assumes no previous experience and covers almost every aspect of football from a supporter's perspective. If you're already a seasoned supporter, then you will have got by admirably without The Guide. You probably won't be a Geezer, mind.

What about me, am I a Geezer? Well, no, I'm an "anorak" or "scarfer". In other words, one who has bought, and wears, a replica shirt and apologises for players having an off day. I had pompously thought of myself as a "sad", that's an ex-"lad". However, my dress sense would never let me get past the bouncer of the Geezer club. Never mind the rest of my seemingly limitless un-Geezerness. Much as it distresses me, anorak it is then.

The Guide is split into seven parts covering specific aspects of supporting a club, the game and Geezer-dom. Each section is a mixture of tongue in cheek humour and deadly serious pointers. The problem for me was deciding which was which.

The most frustrating aspect are the contradictions. For example, almost every venture run by your chosen club is a "commercial trap", a fair point. However one chapter of The Guide is devoted entirely to what clothing Geezers should or shouldn't wear. If a Geezer paying twenty plus quid for a ten quid t-shirt, because it has a designer name is not a "commercial trap", what is? It's the latest footballing cliché, "The game is becoming too commercial". Of course it is, the world is becoming more commercial. Even charities are becoming commercialised. They have to for survival.

In fact, so much scorn is poured on every aspect of football clubs and playing staff that I began to wonder why a Geezer would go to football at all. Because of the game itself, obviously. Well yes, but it's hard to believe this. For example, when a players hits a 35 yard screamer into the net, you are urged not to applaud and celebrate. Instead, the true Geezer would say, "About f**king time the idle c**t did something!". Hmmmm.

At the end of the "Why football" chapter the author singles out footballs' "comradeship and belonging" as the reason why, but belonging to what? Geezers excepted, other supporters should be tolerated or loathed. Players should be tolerated only whilst they wear the club colours. The club is little more than a device to remove a fool from his money. There has to be something more suitable for a Geezer to do on Saturday, hasn't there?

Now all this is starting to sound a little depressing. Well, some of it (in my opinion) is. There are sound and sensible bits of advice. For instance, I nearly fell off my sun bed when I read "nothing is worth taking a slap for". Wise words. There are also some fine pointers to football bogs, catering, transport and, my own favourite, why you should NEVER support ANY Scottish football club.

Treated as a précis of footballing experiences and not a guide, it is even more enjoyable. In fact, I may well pop down to W.H.Smith and buy another of Dougie Brimson's books on the strength of this one. On the other hand, as I know someone who has bought them already, I may well take Dougies advice ( when dealing with fanzines) and borrow them.

The Guide, whilst making me laugh and a giving me a few points for thought, intimidates rather than inspires. Any potential supporter who read the book would, in my opinion, see the game as a minefield of protocol and ritual. Where, in fact, quite the opposite is true. Every Saturday, football grounds are occupied by thousands of people, each with their own interpretations of the game. Just go along and join in.

For those of you still undecided, even after reading this piss poor review, go to the bookshop and pick up a copy of "The Geezers Guide". Turn to the opinionated and controversial glossary at the end (my favourite bit). If you get a laugh, buy it, it will be worth it.

John Southern