Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Kissing The Badge
There is a fair bit of football trivia floating around this old brain of mine and I reckon most of my mates would point me out as possessing the most encyclopedic knowledge of pointless pub trivia. My shelves are bursting with football quiz books and a diverse range of autobiographies - Dean Windass' Deano: From Gipsyville to the Premiership is a particluar cracker - but there is always space alongside these numerous chronicles. The latest addition to my ever-expanding trivia collection is the rather succinctly titled Kissing The Badge - How Much Do You Know About 20 Years Of The Premier League?.
• WIN a copy of Kissing The Badge (UK only)
Now, my first observation may also be yours; that a book claiming to be a bastion of Premier League facts and figures has an erroneous piece of trivia on its front cover. That's right, English football's renamed top flight has actually only existed for 19 years. When I pointed this out to my mates, however, they replied "shut up you pedantic b*****d, it's close enough" and so I reluctantly put my anal approach to football trivia to one side and waded in.
I'm pleased I did manage to get past those initial reservations as the book boasts an excellent collection of mini-stories, quotes and general quiz fodder. Kissing The Badge - I'll avoid its full title in order to save my weary typing fingers - is one of the most easily digestible and navigable trivia publications I've ever had the pleasure of laying my hands on.
The book is split into 22 chapters which places expected categories such as 'Heroes and Villains' and 'Firsts' alongside the slightly more obscure 'Celebrity Fans' and 'Howlers', the latter a pleasing inclusion that is usually only reserved for a Christmas compilation DVDs. I realise I haven't actually thrown any nuggets your way yet so here's one: Tennis legend Bjorn Borg has been a massive Charlton Athletic fan since his grandfather got him supporting the Addicks when he was a young boy. That's the sort of gold I'm talking about.
Each chapter follows the same format: an introductory page is followed by the 'Pre-match warm-up' - a list of 20 facts related to the topic in question and designed to get the juices flowing in the far reaches of your football memory - before the standard 20 questions and their answers. The usual quiz-book classics are in there (is there anybody out there who doesn't know the first Premier League goal was scored by Brian Deane?!) but the questions are a great mix of the easy - which club signed Eric Cantona from Leeds United? - and the slightly more bamboozling - which striker made his international debut on the same night as Wayne Rooney but never played again for England?
I'd say that for most of the chapters I was knocking out 17/18 correct answers out of 20 in the questions section - though there were plenty of posers that left me perplexed and plenty of titbits that I had never come across. One of my favourite gems from Kissing The Badge was discovering that former Everton and West Ham forward Tony Cottee maintained a post-match ritual throught his career of displaying every goal he scored as a diagram in a scrapbook.
The book really is a feast of facts for the football fan and can be used as a great bet settler, a test of who is the biggest anorak in your group of friends, and a reason for your girlfriend to get angry when you bring it out as your version of a 'post-dinner entertainment' at Aunt Sheila's 80th birthday party. Seriously, you've been warned on that last one.
*NB. The answers to the two questions above were, of course, Manchester United and Francis 'Fox-in-the-box' Jeffers.