x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Nick Hornby scores with Pray, about the 2011 Premier League title race

Novelist Nick Hornby returns to his first love – football – to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Fever Pitch, his breakthrough book.

Pray: Notes on the 2011/2012 Football Season
Nick Hornby
Pray: Notes on the 2011/2012 Football Season Nick Hornby

Novelist Nick Hornby returns to his first love – football – to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Fever Pitch, his breakthrough book.

Two decades on, Hornby finds a vastly different sporting landscape to the one he charted so perfectly in that novel. The Premier League era, which began in 1992, has brought untold riches and unrealistic expectations into the previously unglamorous world of English football, but it has also been marked by Hornby’s team (Arsenal) recently falling behind rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

In Pray, Hornby zeroes in on a series of last season’s key moments: City’s stunning early season 5-1 away victory at Spurs, United’s equally remarkable 8-2 pummeling of Arsenal on the same day; the infamous Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra and John Terry-Anton Ferdinand racial affairs and, naturally, the dramatic final day when City contrived to win, lose and then win the Premier League trophy all over again. Throughout Hornby is as sharp as a shot by Arsenal hero Thierry Henry in his pomp. “The glory of sport,” he writes, “is its ability to make fools of anyone [and] this season was more glorious than most.”