Did you have a lockdown project? For me, one of the most worthwhile ways of passing the time whilst on furlough in the spring and summer of 2020 was researching our family’s roots; Steve Menary and James Montague took on a slightly different task…

The Away Leg is an anthology of eleven memorable football journeys, compiled at a time when most people were stuck at home. In addition to their own contributions, Menary and Montague were able to secure chapters from both giants of British football-writing and authors from around the globe.

The result is an entertaining and eclectic collection of stories, from which all author royalties are being donated to the national social care charity Community Integrated Care.

From Harry Pearson’s memoir of his romp through the French World Cup of 1998, through to Catherine Etoe recalling Arsenal Women becoming European Champions and the joyous nothingness of Andrew Downie shelling peanuts on the terraces at Portugesa, this is a book which captures so many of the things that make football so captivating.

From Israel to Iceland, and from Buenos Aires to Boreham Wood, The Away Leg zigzags joyously around the world. At a time when many people couldn’t attend matches, this book was (and is) a reminder of the power of football to create change and generate emotion, both individually and collectively.

In addition, The Away Leg gives space to writers who perhaps aren’t as well-known as some of the ‘big beasts’ who have contributed. I wasn’t previously familiar with the work of all the authors who are included in the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed each and every chapter. Arik Rosenstein and Molly Hudson are writers I shall look for in the future.

Having struggled for the time and energy to continue with Reading the Game, it feels fitting that the first book back is an anthology compiled during the pandemic. While for many, away matches are back on the agenda, that doesn’t render The Away Leg obsolete. It remains relevant, and might make coach or train journeys to games a bit more interesting. It says a great deal about the quality of the stories told in this book that I lent my copy to a dear friend; I don’t often part with my books but when I pass them on, it’s because I’m certain that the recipient would get as much out of a title as I have.

The Away Leg is published by Pitch Publishing and you can find various links to buy it on their website. I always like to share a link to the independent football bookshop Stanchion when they have a book I’ve reviewed in stock, so click here to visit them.

I really enjoyed the stories in this book and it benefits a great cause; it would be an excellent addition to any football fan’s library.