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Kissing the Badge: How Much Do You Know About 20 Years of the Premier League?

Posted on September 12, 2011 by samh

Kissing the Badge: How Much Do You Know About 20 Years of the Premier League? by Phil Ascough (2011)

This is a quiz book that offers just that little bit more than mere trivia. It’s perfect for long car or train journeys on away days (especially, of course, if you follow a Premier League team), but it’s also one of those books that’s interesting to dip in and out of whether you feel like testing your fellow footy mates or just yourself.

The book is separated into a number of different categories (20, appropriately enough), such as Keepers, Controversies, and Heroes and Villains, which in itself sets it apart from other quiz volumes. Each category is preceded by a brief but incisive analysis before, firstly, a collection of 20 facts, and then 20 questions, with the answers on the following page. The research is highly impressive in its scope and variety – even the most ardent Premier League fan will surely find many things they didn’t know, and there’s a good deal of humour and incident along the way. Do you know, for example, who was the first player in the Premier League era to represent England with five different clubs?

There is also an interesting appendix, the All-Time Premier League Table, which has been compiled from the results in every season since the league’s inception in 1992. Pretty unsurprisingly, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool make up the top four, with Swindon Town propping up the table at number 44. As a Hull City fan, I was heartened to see the Tigers coming in at a fairly respectable number 38 – and there is also a notable number of facts about them in the book. Despite the fact that City only troubled the Premier League for two seasons, they made enough of an impact to warrant the inclusion of a few entries, including Phil Brown’s infamous team-talk on the pitch at Manchester City, and Geovanni’s goal in the stunning 2-1 win against Arsenal at the Emirates. Now, this may have something to do with the fact that author Phil Ascough is indeed a fellow Tigers fan, but I can’t tell whether his bias led him to sneak a few more City facts in as I am also quite biased in that respect. Anyway, fair play to him for putting the Tigers on the map.

This book is under 200 pages long, and does not claim to be authoritative or exhaustive, but it still manages to pack in a hell of a lot of information. If you follow a Premier League team, an ex-Premier League team, or just enjoy Sky’s Super Sunday once in a while, there’s something for you here. Even if you are highly cynical about how the new top-flight transformed football as we knew it, this book not only acknowledges this but embraces it. Ultimately, Ascough argues that, “in the midst of the media frenzy and corporate clamour, the game itself retains the capacity to thrill and to shock, to enthral and bemuse, to exhilarate and devastate all at the same time” – which is why “deep down, all fans want to be part of the Premier League”.

Oh, and the answer to the question I mentioned earlier was David James.

Review by Sam Hawcroft

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