When I was younger, I seriously contemplated emigrating. The twentysomething me came very close to packing up and moving to Amsterdam, as a couple of my mates had. An ill-fated promotion at work and my Dad’s ill-health put the idea on the back burner, where it eventually fizzled out completely.
Christopher Hylland was braver than I was; not only did he relocate, he headed for South America for more than half a decade. Hylland’s adventures are superbly told in Tears at La Bombonera a book which is part memoir, part travelogue, part groundhopper’s journal.
Football is central not just to the author’s move across the globe but to how he makes his new life work. The half-English, half-Norwegian Hylland doesn’t just watch the game all over Buenos Aires, he plays it too, forming friendships with locals and ex-pats alike.
When life in the Argentinian capital begins to lose its lustre, Hylland travels around South America and, yes, takes in as many matches as he can. By doing so, Hylland learns a great deal about the football culture of the continent and how the game impacts on life in ways it simply doesn’t in other parts of the world.
I pre-ordered Tears at La Bombonera from my favourite indie football bookshop, Stanchion although it took a while to reach me thanks to post-Brexit delays in the post, which meant it took ages for bookplates for signed copies to travel from the author’s current home in Oslo to Stanchion HQ. How far this country has fallen; twenty years ago, I could contemplate moving to The Netherlands without a care; now we struggle to trade with our neighbours!
What I will say is that Tears at La Bombonera was well worth the wait; Christopher Hylland’s adventures make for an entertaining warm and really personal tale, very well told. I think what makes this book particularly good is that it is about so much more than football; by the time I’d finished it, I felt I’d learnt as much about the South American ways of life as I had the state of the game there and I could completely understand why the author made his home there.
Like so many of the books I’ve reviewed in the Reading the Game series, Tears at La Bombonera is a Pitch Publishing title. (They must be doing something right!) If Stanchion are out of stock, you could buy a copy or read a sample chapter by visiting the Pitch website. I’d recommend you do; this is a terrific book and very much worth reading.