It’s not hard to believe that 5-a-side has overtaken the 11-a-side version of the game, and now counts on a whopping 1.5m active adult players. The pitches are reliable, there are less stud-wielding maniacs, it doesn’t take up as much time, is easier to arrange, and is sociable if you play with your mates. Saying that, the carpet burns aren’t pleasant, especially in the shower afterwards, and the black rubber crumbs are guaranteed to infuriate mothers and girlfriends everywhere.
The Five-a-Side Bible, by Chris Bruce, vows to go “inside the world of tasty tackles and terrible touches”. However, it does more than that. Players of all abilities grace small-sided pitches across the world. The book appeals to casual players, and those of limited ability, who have a friendly kick-about with their mates before going for a couple of pints. At the other end of the spectrum the book will strike a chord with the serious players for whom their weekly game is like their cup final, with tips on how to prepare, eat, drink and sleep properly in order to extract the most from your ability.
One of the highlights of the book is the interview with Scotsman Keith Rogers, attributed with starting the 5-a-side revolution back in 1987 when he transformed an underused tennis court into a football pitch. It’s amazing to see what the game has blossomed into today. There are stories of legends such as Sof, Rob Ursell, and many others who have travelled far and wide winning tournaments, cash prizes and the respect of fellow 5-a-side players. Within the book their are endorsements for the small-sided game from ex-professionals Matt Le Tissier and John Durnin as well as Arsene Wenger who waxes lyrical about the benefits of 5-a-side in improving your touch and awareness in small spaces. There are humorous stories from regular players up and down the country in the “tales from the pitch” segments, and the list of different types of excuses for not playing make “the dog ate my homework” from your school days look tame. “Fifteen Players You Always See at 5-a-side” will amuse anyone who has ever played the game, moreso anyone who has fulfilled the thankless task of “The Organiser”.
Could five-a-side ever outdo it’s bigger brother as the nation’s number one sport. Who knows? But if it continues to grow at the current rate maybe one day it will give it a run for its money. This book is recommended and would make a perfect stocking filler for the 5-a-side fan in your life.
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