Waiting for a Goal

A selection from the beloved bestseller Among the Thugs, “Waiting for a Goal” pinpoints the actual soccer amid the rampant hooliganism. They have names like Barmy Bernie, Daft Donald, and Steamin’ Sammy. They like lager (in huge quantities), the Queen, football clubs, and themselves. Their dislikes encompass the rest of the known universe, and England’s soccer thugs express their feelings in ways that range from petty vandalism to riots that terrorize entire cities. And for nearly a decade, from World Cups to beer halls, Bill Buford was one of them.  Among the Thugs is the terrifying, definitive account of football hooliganism, a hall of fame sports book but also a paragon of immersive journalism. In “Waiting for a Goal,” Buford shepherds the reader into the stands, directly over the pitch, bringing the social imagination of a George Orwell and the...

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