Q- Hi Mat, congratulations on the publication of your new book, Another Bloody Saturday, and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
Well Another Bloody Saturday is my first book, and was written alongside my day job at an independent cinema in Southampton, so things have been very busy for quite some time! I am 43 and this was my first attempt at writing about the sport that I love. I was quite nervous about it, as football is such a large part of my life, but I found that I really enjoyed writing about matches, the people at those matches, and memories of games long gone.
Q- You are quite experienced with blogging for your blog “Dreams From Victoria Park” is literary heaven for a football fan. When did you decide to write a book on lower league clubs? Was it specifically for lower league football?
To be honest I started writing the blog as a simple diary of my travels through football, but the characters that I met and their stories soon made me think that it could make a good book. Thankfully Luath Press thought so too – as it is very hard for an unknown writer to get anywhere – something I learnt from my years of writing fiction, so getting a book published is very surreal!
I was quite content with writing the blog, and having people read it and enjoy it, and it wasn’t until a journalist suggested that I try and get a publisher interested that I seriously thought about it, and then actively sent extracts out to people. My reasons for writing it in the first place stemmed from the team my grandfather and I supported, Salisbury, folding last summer. It left a huge gap in my life, as non league football had always been my way of connecting to what I call ‘real football’, where it’s soul can be found.
Premier League football is all well and good – but it is so expensive that it is now no longer a league ‘for the people’. Lower league and non league football is, and I wanted to explore it to help me reconnect with it now that my team had gone.
Q- The idea behind a ‘spiritual’ football club is what attracted me in your book. Your love for Accrington Stanley proves in what I always believed that a man can love two different football clubs for altogether different reasons. Is it more than the spirituality in watching lower league football? What attracts you the most?
Clubs like Accrington offer the fan a real sense of belonging, of community, where you can meet your heroes, the players, where you can get involved in your club and actually be a part of it. Premier league clubs cannot offer that anymore – the players are too distant from the fans, and the fans are often seen as nothing more than customers to the club.
The lower leagues are more a reflection of how football was when I was growing up, where even top flight teams had a real community feel – where players earned a little more than those that watched them, but not a lot more, lived on the same streets as the fans.
Accrington Stanley survive because of a small band of dedicated fans and club officials, who pour their heart and soul into it. It is powerful stuff and easy to fall in love with when you see it first hand.
This is what football is all about for me, clubs are a reflection of the people that love them – they represent their community, and when it is done well as in Accrington, it is a magical thing.
Q- I really enjoyed your book Another Bloody Saturday. Every chapter is unique and tells a different tale. How about the craft of writing? How do you approach your writing? Do you have a writing routine? Continue reading “AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Mat Guy”