This week I have read Six Added Minutes by Johnnie Lowery. The author is a young fan of Sutton United and this is the story of his experience of their recent FA Cup adventures.
This book captured my imagination from the outset. I confess I was curious as to what motivates a schoolboy to get into non-league football, when his classmates are following Premier League teams. It seems his dad pushed him in that direction because it was:
“…a cost-effective way to try and prevent me from becoming an Arsenal fan in the long term.”
Perhaps this is a marketing route that could be the saviour of non-league clubs? Get them hooked when they’re children and they’ll save themselves tens of thousands of pounds over their lifetime. It’s a no-brainer. God knows non-league clubs need some kind of lifeline at the moment. But that’s another story…
Six Added Minutes is also a coming of age story. It transported me back to the time I fell in love with football. Lowery’s addiction to the game in his teens transforms his friendship group, impacts on his schoolwork and becomes his everything. It helps him get through the week as he always has another game to look forward to. I can empathise with all of this.
“I haven’t known these guys long, but I just know they’ll end up being friends for life.”
You may recall my main bugbear with I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You was the author’s tendency to write as an adult when relaying stories of his childhood, such that the reader can forget the book’s hero is indeed a child. This is certainly not the case in Six Added Minutes, which is largely set in school (when not at the football):
“…I spent lunch breaks designing match posters for the game, sticking them up around school in the hope of attracting somebody else down to Gander Green Lane for the big game.”
Interestingly, Lowery’s motivation for writing Six Added Minutes mirrors the reason I started writing about football in my teens:
“ …[I] hope I can at least begin to show those who aren’t into football just why we do it.”
I was very excited to learn that Sutton United had their own FA Cup song (and, further research revealed, a Christmas song). Why isn’t there more of this sort of thing?
Lowery is a talented writer with a beautiful turn of phrase. This is only a short book (131 pages) but is cleverly structured, with the Arsenal thread running through each chapter. Having ditched Arsenal in favour of Sutton, Lowery dreams of drawing The Gunners in every FA Cup draw. The book ends when his dream finally comes true.
There is so much in this book that a football fan can relate to. I chuckled at the goal celebration injuries:
“I’m genuinely not bothered he’s broken my nose; it’s completely understandable given the circumstances.”
I recalled the back injury I sustained in a goal celebration at Hartlepool many years ago. I still think of that every time my back goes. There’s always a smile in that grimace…
Black and white match action photographs occasionally punctuate the text. I’m not sure the book needs these, as they don’t add much for the reader. I also wonder if the title of the book could be more enticing, but honestly that’s all I can find to fault with this book. It’s an excellent read and I was delighted to learn that Lowery intends to write more books. I look forward to reading them.
Give this a read. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re not already in love with non-league football, you might well be after you read this. Maybe give it your kids to read, too, if you want to save yourselves (and them) a packet in the long run…
If you’d like to buy a copy, you can do so at this link.
NEXT UP: Barcelona to Buckie Thistle by Mat Guy
Please do keep your football book recommendations coming! Also, if you’ve written a book you would like me to review, please do get in touch.
Don’t forget you can also read about my awaydays with Blackpool from the 2019/20 season right here.
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