Fever Pitch – review snippets

In ‘fever pitch’ with a losing season

Many of us have a sports team we passionately support.  And if they have a losing season, it can send us into the depths of doldrums for the whole season.  We experience this vicariously in Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch.

More than just being about a long-suffering football fan, Fever Pitch gives an account of Nick Hornby as he navigates the demands of

Fever Pitch banner

childhood, adolescence and bachelorhood while nursing an obsessive devotion to soccer.

The reader gets glimpses of a boy going to matches with his father, and how he gradually became obsessive with the game; to the extent, even as a kid, of going by himself.  We are given to understand that this is one of the few pleasant memories he has of his father.

If I am repeating myself in saying this is a book about Nick Hornby’s obsession with soccer, consider this excerpt from the book:

It worries me, the prospect of dying in mid-season …, but of course, in all probability I will die sometime between August and May. …”

“Maybe we will die the night before our team appears at Wembley, or the day after a European Cup first-leg match, or in the middle of a promotion campaign or a relegation battle, and there is every prospect, according to many theories about the afterlife, that we will not be able to discover the eventual outcome. The whole point about death, metaphorically speaking, is that it is almost bound to occur before the major trophies have been awarded. …”

“I do not wish to die in mid-season but, on the other hand, I am one of those who would, I think, be happy to have my ashes scattered over the Highbury pitch (although I understand that there are restrictions: too many widows contact the club, and there are fears that the turf would not respond kindly to the contents of urn after urn). It would be nice to think that I could hang around inside the stadium in some form, and watch the first team one Saturday, the reserves the next; I would like to feel that my children and grandchildren will be Arsenal fans and that I could watch with them. It doesn’t seem a bad way to spend eternity, and certainly I’d rather be sprinkled over the East Stand than dumped into the Atlantic or left up some mountain.


The very first page will resonate with any sports fan.  You will know what I mean when you read it.

Social influence:

This 1998 Nick Hornby novel is one of the first books to talk about what it is like being an obsessive football fan while also ostensibly being a responsible adult who does “have a life”.

It also made it “respectable”, in a class-obsessing England, to admit that you’re a middle class person who is obsessed with football.

Nick Hornby books have received huge acclaim and popularity, so much so that a number of his titles have been made into movies.  Nick Hornby never disappoints as a writer and is well worth checking out his other titles.

List of Nick Hornby novels include:

  • Funny Girl – “addictively readable”.
  • Juliet, Naked – adapted into a film starring Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke; the book is written with Hornby’s “likably bleak humour” and with the usual 40-something year old obsessive protagonist.
  • Slam – Nick Hornby applies his novelist wit to what it really means to become a man.
  • Stuff I’ve been reading – a tour through Hornby’s reading list as he writes for the magazine, Believer.
  • How To Be Good – a “dark espresso-strength comedy” on “a subject almost nobody else has written about”.
  • 31 Songs – personal, passionate pieces on what music is to Hornby.
  • Songbook – this is a deluxe, limited edition reprint of Nick Hornby’s ode to the art of pop music.
  • Ten Years in the Tub – something “to soak in and savour”, making standing in line “a blessed interval for snorting another page”.
  • Shakespeare Wrote for Money – more of Hornby’s columns from The Believer, with his usual “highbrow and otherwise” wit.
  • More Baths Less Talking – a further tour through Hornby’s reading list, telling us not only what to read but how to read.
  • The Polysyllabic Spree – exactly as the subtitle says “A Hilarious and True Account of One Man’s Struggle with the Monthly Tide of Books He’s Bought and the Books He’s Been Meaning to Read” and all of the wit that we have come to expect from Mr. Hornby.
  • Not a Star – Hornby applies his literary wit to a plot about a mother finding out her son is a porn star.  You know what to expect.

Movies based on Nick Hornby novels/screenplays:

  • Fever Pitch – starring Colin Firth
  • A Long Way Down – “It’s serious literature…no, it’s popular entertainment…no, it’s both!”    A long way down book is another of Hornby’s novels made into a movie.
  • High Fidelity – Hornby captured “the loneliness and childishness of adult life with such precision and wit …“.  Made into a movie.
  • About A Boy – a ‘coming of age’ novel made into a movie starring Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Grant, Toni Colette and Rachel Weisz.
  • An Education – an adapted screenplay for movie starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Starsgaard, Emma Thompson, Dominic Cooper and Alfred Molina.

Nick Hornby mentions included:

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of Nick Hornby novels and other writings.  Of the lot, I believe I’ve only read Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About A Boy.  And I can conclusively say that his sole sports book remains a ‘must read’ in the genre.  So go have fun browsing through your local library’s shelves.

Cop-out apology:

Direct links to Fever Pitch and other book titles in this article (and anywhere on this website) are not necessarily the cheapest.  The links were chosen either because it was the exact edition that I read, or it is a limited edition, or I just grabbed the first convenient edition.  I strongly suggest you browse round the Booktopia site to get the edition that would suit your reading budget or aficionado proclivities.

Here’s a quick and easy link for a quick search of the titles you’re after:

Booktopia banner

Some may even have e-book versions.

You can also search online but I would really prefer you ordered from anyone other than Amazon.  The merchant world of books must be presided over by booksellers who are lovers of stories and books and nurturers of man’s flights of fancy and musing.  Their literary emporiums and wares must not be made obsolete by an online mall-type provider that pays minimum to its workers and affiliates.

And if you’re really after a free copy, just ask your local library.  Public libraries have my greatest respect for providing one of life’s greatest pleasures freely.


  1. Comments arise from the reader’s desire to understand, discuss and supplement. 

    After reading this article, I turned to Nick Hornby’s biography. Hornby was born on April 17, 1957 in the city of Redhill in the county of Surrey near London. When he was 11 years old, his parents divorced, and in order to survive this somehow, Hornby became interested in football and became a fan of the London Arsenal football club. 

    He tells about the feeling of a fan that has been preserved for the rest of his life in his autobiographical book “ Fever Pitch” It appeared in 1992 and was awarded the William Hill Award as the best book of the year on the topic of sport.

    In the autobiographical book list includes more: 31 Songs (2003): The Polysyllabic Spree (2004) andHousekeeping vs. the Dirt (2006). 

    We should thank the author of this article for the acquaintance with the list of books by Nick Hornby and the filmography.

    • Good man, Mark.  And thank you for your comments.  

      I did find pleasure in Hornby’s books and was often amused by his writings.  His wit translated well to the screen. 

  2. Fever Pitch seems like a really good read, I love reading ‘coming of age’ books, and of course football, who doesn’t love reading books about football?

    I know it’s an old book but I had never heard about it before until I saw the film and if I ever watch a film that has been put into a written form I have to read the book afterwards, it’s easier for me to visualise the characters as I’m reading it.

    I hadn’t realised that Nick Hornby had so many books that have been made into a film, I will check them out when I have a couple of hours to spare. Is there any in particular from the list in this post that you would highly recommend for an Action/Thriller fan?

    • I’m afraid Hornby’s not quite the action/thriller type.

      But for a soccer-related action/thriller movie, try Escape to Victory!  A soccer movie Pele, the Brazilian legend, even appeared in; along with Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and some real world class soccer players.  Saw it ages ago; don’t know whether it has stood the test of time or if it’s dated.  But I remember being quite gripped by it.

  3. this seems like a pretty good book I my self may not be a huge book reader but if something really catches my interest I will dig right in you know?

    Plus I love hearing stories about sports I have always been a huge sports fan so this booo sounds like something I would read.plus you give a wide selection of reads so that is nice and a way to buy them if we wanted. I can say audio books are real good for the ones on the go and can’t sit down and read so I might have to also see about getting on of those to.

    Thank you for the list of reads and I hope the best for you


    • Thanks, Matt.  

      If you’re not much of a reader, you may still enjoy Hornby’s literary wit – but I also enjoyed the movie (slightly different to the book but that’s okay).

      I’m actually in the midst of tracking down audio books for these titles, so it’s good to note there will be interest (you’re my first casestudy in confirming this!).  I’ll be updating these pages as and when I find the audio links.

      Thanks for stopping by, Matt.

  4. Hello Shy Lock. I guess you are doing just great. Thanks for sharing this book: “Fever Pitch”. I haven’t come across this book before, but from your review, I think Fever pitch would be a good read.

    From what I have read in your review, I see this book is a sport kind of book and a football kind of story. This is worth checking out for football lovers.

    Keep sharing.

  5. This is a very interesting perspective. For many fans, football is not a game, its not even a way of life. Its would be more accurate for them to day that football is like air. This is evident from fans absolutely trashing stadiums and starting brawls at football matches. This is due to the high levels of unimpeded emotion (the alcohol also probably doesn’t help:)

    I am pretty sure I have encountered hid work or at least the adaptation of his work in About A Boy. I think the relationship with his dad also makes it relatable to a variety of people who suffer with the same situation. I think Fever Pitch is definitely worth a read! Thanks for the Honest review.

    • Yeah, the unimpeded emotion of football fans .. You know what they say about sport being the opiate of the masses …

  6. This is a real teaser and it has intrigued me enough to check out Fever Pitch. I’m a football fan myself and I’m sure I can relate to many things in the story. Well, your mention of the class-obsessing England is interesting. I’m from India and this is something I didn’t know. Was it some kinda taboo to admit that you’re a lover of football if you are from the middle-class background?! It’s also interesting when you say we should order books from anywhere other than Amazon. I always order from Amazon and you have already made me thoughtful.

    • Hope you do, Sukumar!  You won’t be disappointed with Nick Hornby’s wit.

      It wasn’t taboo, so much as a snobbish affectation – soccer was very much a working class sport.

      High volumed affiliates may be making money out of Amazon but its business model is riddled with unfair trade practices that we should not readily accept.  We should always question such companies; to keep things fair for the common man whom they’re making money out of.  There are many other platforms out there that will be fairer – they just don’t have as big a name as Amazon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *