Scotland 42 England 1 by Mark Winter – Review
By Karl Hornsey
As someone who completed a ‘Road to Wembley’ journey several years ago with a great friend of mine, I’m always fascinated to hear of supporters’ somewhat madcap and offbeat challenges that involve visiting clubs and grounds that wouldn’t normally garner much attention. And that’s exactly what author and columnist Mark Winter has done, setting himself a challenge over the last few years to visit every one of the 42 league clubs in Scotland. Now, this in itself would be quite an achievement for someone living north of the border, and more impressive for the likes of myself living in Yorkshire, but the fact that Winter took on this challenge being a resident of Dover is all the more remarkable indeed.
For good measure, sling in a global pandemic and a fair few other obstacles, such as the weather and the fact that some matches weren’t actually taking place where and when they were supposed to, and this is even more of an outstanding achievement. And, probably the best thing at all about this book and the reason that it will appeal to fans of ‘real’ football, is that it keeps that connection going between supporters of clubs at a level that seldom receives much publicity, but that matter so much to their communities. This is a book written from the heart and with a passion and a desire to see football in its simplest form, and for me that makes it very special indeed. Yes, there are some higher profile top-flight or European matches in there as well, but it’s those journeys where Winter knows he’ll be part of a small crowd in stadiums that have seen better days that seem to shine through the most.
While there are snippets of historical or geographical interest around several of the places visited, there does come a point when clubs and matches seem to merge into one, especially given that often the author understandably chose to spend a week or so at a time in Scotland and rattle off several matches in a row. And, in a show of great honesty, Winter himself wishes he’d spent more time in the country away from the football, finding out more about local areas and the people, rather than just dashing to and from the clubs themselves.
That would be the only missed opportunity in this book, which is a delight to read and feel involved in, and it becomes apparent from very early on that watching a match with the amiable author and joining him on his travels would be a very pleasant way of passing the time indeed.
‘Scotland 42 England 1 – An Englishman’s Mazy Dribble Through Scottish Football’ by Mark Winter is published by Pitch Publishing, £14.99 paperback