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A Different Corner


Monday, March 08, 2010 by

There is something exciting about the thought of moving to an exotic new country and leaving everything behind. Even the most breathtaking of sights can be rendered unremarkable through familiarity. It is this desire to break free from the hold of everyday life that makes the dream of a drastic change seem so enticing.

For Richard Brentnall, however, that had very little to do with his decision to move to Spain. In a prologue that could well have been penned by Victor Meldrew, he complains about how British society is deteriorating as typified, among others, ‘by boorish, aggressive youths spoiling my Friday night’.

So he decided to leave. Tellingly, other than his friends, the one thing that he openly admits to being afraid of missing is his beloved West Bromwich Albion. And here starts a book long anomaly: whilst Brentnall vilifies the excesses of English football, he clearly longs to see his team play come the weekend.

Perhaps it is to get away from this longing that he decided to try and get to know Spanish football. And to write about his experiences. The result of this year long trek all over Spain is ‘A Different Corner’, a book that comes with the tagline of ‘exploring Spanish football’.

The standard for books about the Spanish game was set by Phil Ball’s classic, Morbo and realistically A Different Corner never really enters the same literary territory. Nor, in all frankness, does it aspire to: Brentnall simply wants to tell of his experiences of watching football in Spain, not analyse its history or explain why things are the way they are.

Inevitably, therefore, this is a highly personal book and you’ll have to like Brentnall – or at least accept him – in order to like this book. A major plus is that he puts in the effort of catching up not only with the heavyweights but also looks below the surface at clubs whose current standing is at odds with their history and even his local side, which he manages track after a good deal of effort.

And this is what makes it enjoyable. For those who will never have the opportunity of making the move that Brentnall has gone through, reading through the variety of local flavours he comes across gives a taste of what it must be like. Richard Brentnall might not have written a classic, but he has certainly penned a book that will fuel dreams.

Rating: 3 out of 5