‘Grounds For Divorce’ By Mel Huckridge

“You’re mad”, the first two words in this 232 page book. Every reader of the book may come to the same conclusion having followed his trials and tribulations as Mel sets out on his plan to do as many games in a football season in as many weird and wonderful places and share that experience with us.

Firstly, hats off to the author as a lot of us gave him a look of ‘are you sure ?’ when he first talked of his plans about two years ago. Secondly, you feel for his wallet and his wife as our intrepid explorer heads to all corners of the globe in search of (A), a holiday, (B), a decent amount of liquid refreshment and (C), a football match or matches. To say it’s a football book would be missing the point somewhat as it’s not exactly about the match, but the journey involved, the people he meets and a few relevant observations thrown in for good measure.

Lots of QPR fans are name checked in the book as you’d expect, but that’s not the reason for liking it. It’s a story of one person’s wanderlust with plenty of drunken nights thrown in with football as the sideshow. While the book was being written, we would be regaled with stories of how he’d just got off a plane having been to some exotic destination to see a game.

The narrator starts off on 21st July 2009 when he makes a flying visit to Germany for a Union Berlin pre-season friendly. When I say flying visit, he was actually on German terra firma for about 4 hours as he flew in and flew back out as quickly as Bomber Harris’s visit to Dresden back in the 40’s. He was back in his local for last orders somehow. His tale then takes in QPR games, he has a season ticket, but also finds him going to Premiership games, Conference, Ryman Premier, Scottish Leagues then he heads abroad with more visits to Germany plus appearances in Greece, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Rumania, France, Latvia, Cyprus (where he was under manners from the wife NOT to go to football !), Hungary and Spain. Then there were England games, home and away, he even managed to find a WC qualifier in Trinidad & Tobago.

The book ends with Mel in South Africa for the World Cup and after England got knocked out, he stayed on and his last game was one of the semi-finals on 11th July 2010, some 355 days after he set out on his voyage. Having known Mel for about 25 years, I have been impressed with his knowledge of world football, but in this book it stands out a mile. Another thing that stands out is a wicked sense of humour with some great anecdotes and really funny one-liners. It could be described as ‘lowbrow’ by some journalists, but who wants ‘Fever Pitch’ by some Cambridge Graduate who used football as a crutch to make a living.

This is the real deal, from a true football fans perspective. The language used is the language of the terraces or in these days of all-seater stadiums, the language of the pub. It’s sexist and racist in equal measure, he doesn’t want to be accused of being discriminatory now does he ? It’s definitely a blokes book, it’s a book that we would’ve loved to have written as we would’ve chopped off our right arms to have done what Mel accomplished. And what makes it all the more incredible was that the author was out of work at the time.

I believe that Mel just fell short of a century of games, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as a couple of times he turned up in some foreign country to find out that a game was played the day before. So on that front I can only give it a 8 out of 10 I’m afraid. Come back next year when you’ve managed the ton !!!

Available for the price of 10 English pounds from: melh64@hotmail.co.uk
He needs to buy some nappies for Jake !


13 thoughts on “‘Grounds For Divorce’ By Mel Huckridge

  1. Where’s the facebook ‘share’ button for this post? Let’s get some dosh into Mel’s pockets for crying out load…. And what’s with the email addy for a tenner?… Does Mel know he can get it GLOBALLY distributed on AMAZON?… Whoever is responsible for marketing this book should be shot!…. Probably an ex-match day programme seller!

    As soon as it’s on amazon I’ll buy a copyn

  2. He also visited Unterhaching Steve. Never heard of them ? Thats because they’re in Bundesliga 3 !!! He also bumped into Aberdeen Bill while abroad.

  3. Chris: I think Bill told me that he bumped into Mel at a beer festival in Germany ! ebay sales now up to 12 I see.

  4. Quite simply one of the best books I have ever read and I’ve read more than a few. Mel has got a superb talent for story telling. I hope somebody in the media reads this book and gives him a chance show a wider audience what a deep love of historical analogy he has that enabled him to give places and culture as much if not more prominence than the football. His talent for story telling in words and tempo anybody could be comfortable with is very engaging. I’m sure he could do a far better job than the likes of Kate Humble and Caroline Quentin for example. Thanks Mel. A wonderful read.

  5. ‘He also visited Unterhaching Steve’.
    That would be the same SPVgg Unterhaching where a certain Marc Nygaard now plies his trade…!

  6. A great idea for a book, well written and a really good read.
    It will touch a chord with any football supporter anywhere in the world.
    It must have cost Mel a small fortune, travelling around the world for a year, watching Professional and Non-professional football in all sorts of places.
    Mel’s missus must be a bit special too, letting him get away with it…….
    Well, he might think he’s got away with it, he’s probably down for washing up duties for the rest of his natural.

    I’ve read loads of ‘Football’ books written by professionals, that don’t come near to this.
    A cracking read.

    Distribution can sometimes be a problem, so it might help to publicise the book on other Clubs sites?

    Nice one Mel, thanks for the read.

  7. Unterhaching Chris? You’re slipping! Not like you. I’ve been there twice – 1996 v Fortuna Cologne and 2008 v God Knows Who. Close to Munich, they had a couple of seasons at the very top level from 1999 to 2001. Playing Bayern and 1860 at their ground must have been nuts as it was only c.12,000 capacity at that time.

    I’m really looking foward to reading Mel’s book – it sounds like a cracker! Just off to book my flight for Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 on April 1st. If you’ve never seen a league game in Germany it’s a must – like football was 20 years ago in England – wunderbar!

  8. Martin,

    They played some of their games at the ’72 Olympic stadium. They beat Leverkusen and stopped them winning the League on the last game

  9. Nearly finished it. Mel, you tell a good tail and I am so glad it was written like a football diary but more like a traveller review. I found some of your experiences/observations so damn funny. I like your laid back almost casual style.

    Highly/strongly recommend!

  10. Just back from watching Werder Bremen, who I’ve been following for a while now and had the pleasure of meeting the man himself. After hearing some of your stories mate, can’t wait to read the book. Brentford Chris.

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