Extra Time: 50 Further Delights of Modern Football (Bloomsbury, October 2020)
Despite its flaws and excesses, modern football is still sprinkled with simple yet beguiling delights. In his previous book Saturday, 3pm, Daniel Gray captured many of them. Now he is back with a further 50 short essays of prose poetry dedicated to the game’s charming, technicolour minutiae.
From club lottos to undeserved wins, and from pitch-invading animals to the roar after a minute’s silence, Extra Time is another romantic celebration of football fandom and its shared joys, habits, eccentricities and peculiarities. It is a salute to keepers going forward for corners, match balls landing on stand roofs and goals scored in quick succession.
These chapters offer a gleeful antidote to disillusionment with modern football, VAR and all. They are reminders of why we care and justifications for our devotion. Each warmly evokes this sport’s blessed capacity to offer escape and diversion. Let us share the delight once more.
Snapshot: Scenes and Stories from the Heartlands of Scottish Football (Nutmeg and Arena, September 2020)
From the lonely pitches of Eriskay to the great stadiums of our cities, Snapshot captures the gritty, alluring essence of Scotland’s national game.
Alan McCredie’s photographs combine with Daniel Gray’s words to accompany the reader on a charismatic tour of Scottish football from Selkirk to Stornoway. Here is a rarely seen version of the country and its football culture, rich in detail, charm and eccentricity. It is a prolonged love letter to floodlights in Ayr, ghost stadiums in Glasgow, pitch-invading oystercatchers in Grantown and all the rest.
From border to island, Premiership to Highland, here are the people and places that make Scottish football – old pal fans in the rain, park players kicking and dreaming, fathers and daughters trudging dejectedly from the match, proud club shop proprietors, scraggy but loveable grounds with one grandstand and bustling stadiums of noble vintage.
Snapshot is a celebration of football and a portal into a different kind of Scotland.
Black Boots and Football Pinks: 50 Lost Wonders of the Beautiful Game (Bloomsbury, October 2018)
Goalkeepers in trousers, ramshackle dugouts, proper division names, multiple cup replays, turf patterns, the smell of tobacco, pixelated scoreboards and, of course, Saturday evening pink newspapers… They were the gritty stardust which made football sparkle.
Here, 50 such wonders are drawn together with evocative charm before they slip from memory forever. Dedicating a chapter to each wonder, Daniel Gray’s pieces read more like love letters than essays.
Here is a sentimental meander beneath main stand clocks and through streets where children still play football. Written in the same wistful and whimsical style as Gray’s much-admired Saturday, 3pm, Black Boots and Football Pinks will warm the heart and prompt fond sighs of recognition.
Gray’s words preserve on paper the relics and minutiae of a shared obsession and identity. They make yesterday’s football feel within touching distance, and offer cosy refuge from a boisterous game and world.
Scribbles in the Margins: 50 Eternal Delights of Books (Bloomsbury, 2017)
Warm, heartfelt and witty, here are fifty short essays of prose poetry dedicated to the simple joy to be found in reading and the rituals around it. These are not wallowing nostalgia; they are things that remain pleasurable and right, that warm our hearts and connect us to books, to reading and to other readers: smells of books, old or new; losing an afternoon organising bookshelves; libraries; watching a child learn to read; reading in bed; impromptu bookmarks; visiting someone’s home and inspecting the bookshelves; stains and other reminders of where and when you read a book.
An attempt to fondly weigh up what makes a book so much more than paper and ink – and reading so much more than a hobby, a way of passing time or a learning process – these declarations of love demonstrate what books and reading mean to us as individuals, and the cherished part they play in our lives, from the vivid greens and purples of childhood books to the dusty comfort novels we turn to in times of adult flux.
Scribbles in the Margins is a love-letter to books and bookshops, rejoicing in the many universal and sometimes odd little ways that reading and the rituals around reading make us happy.
Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Football (Bloomsbury , October 2016)
Overpaid players. Sunday lunchtime kick-offs. Absurd ticket prices. Non-black boots. Football’s menu of ills is long. Where has the joy gone? Why do we bother? Saturday, 3pm offers a glorious antidote. It is here to remind you that football can still sing to your heart.
Warm, heartfelt and witty, here are fifty short essays of prose poetry dedicated to what is good in the game. These are not wallowing nostalgia; they are things that remain sweet and right: seeing a ground from the train, brackets on vidiprinters, ball hitting bar, Jimmy Armfield’s voice, listening to the results in a traffic jam, football towns and autograph-hunters. This is fan culture at its finest, words to transport you somewhere else and identify with, words to hide away in a pub and luxuriate in.
Saturday, 3pm is a book of love letters to football and a clarion call, helping us find the romance in the game all over again. Click here to read some lovely praise.
This is Scotland: A Country in Words and Pictures (Luath Press, 2014)
Published shortly after the Scottish independence referendum, this collaboration with the photographer Alan McCredie mixes documentary photography with travel writing. In October 2015, it was shortlisted for a Saltire Literary Prize.
Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels through England’s Football Provinces (Bloomsbury, 2013)
Critically-acclaimed from the Daily Telegraph to Loaded magazine, Hatters… is a travel book through the prism of football. It tells the story of modern England. First published in August 2013, and again in paperback in August 2014.
Stramash: Tackling Scotland’s Towns and Teams (Luath Press, 2010)
Now in its sixth reprint, Stramash is a cult classic lauded by critics and fans alike. It tells the tale of a neglected Scotland through its national game. First published in 2010.
Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War (Luath Press, 2008)
Revealing Scotland’s huge involvement in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, Homage… was turned into a television series for STV. The book received widespread praise and was nominated for a Saltire Prize. Reprinted several times, it was first published as a hardback in 2008.
The Historical Dictionary of Marxism (Rowman & Littlefield Press, 2005)
An invaluable companion for any student or enthusiast of Marxism, Daniel co-authored this volume with Dr David Walker of the University of Newcastle on Tyne in 2005. Later released as The A-Z of Marxism and then again in the autumn of 2014 with extensive new entries by Elliot Johnson.
Buy it here for an unMarxist price.