Kicking Off in North Korea
Tim Hartley Other books by Tim Hartley
Travel junkie Tim Hartley is a man with a thirst for understanding the modern world, or worlds, we live in. He is equally at home herding reindeer with the last of the Sami people or watching football in a silent crowd of 50,000 in North Korea. Whether he is getting lost in a favela in Brazil or taking his mum back to the Cheltenham Ladies' College, Hartley casts a piercing and sometimes judgmental eye on the kaleidoscopic world around him.
Kicking Off in North Korea is one man's attempt to make sense of globalisation, his beloved game of football and his own place in the world. Hartley can be serious when his is discussing blood feuds in Albania and hilarious when he 'does' Mexico in five-star luxury with his wife.
We meet his seven-year-old son Chester for a child's-eye view of the Palestinian question in Beirut and then follow them both to east London twelve years later where the son has a lesson for his dad.
In these uplifting travel diaries Hartley crosses the world in search of authentic stories and people. More often than not, he finds them.
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"The subtitle of this volume merely touches on the essence of this travelogue-cum-footballing odyssey. His underlying message is that soccer breaks down barriers. Yes, it is humorous but behind it all there is a serious intent. It was Bill Shankley who said that football wasn't a matter of life or death; it was far more serious than that. Hartley doesn't go that far but read this fascinating book and you will know what I mean.
His search for strange venues knows no bounds, often in the company of his son, occasionally his wife. Some of those venues are in political powder kegs, Beirut and the Ukraine among them. He takes us from the favelas of Brazil to an orphanage in Baku, from the desert lands of the Bedouin to the reindeer-herding Sami people. Wherever he goes he champions the underclass in the various societies.
Some of the author's most touching experiences, however, are found closer to home. He mourns Mikey Dye, a victim of football hooliganism. And his agonising over the rebranding of Cardiff City that divided his and his son's loyalties is painful to read. He must have written this chapter in blood – and blue blood at that.
This is not a book to be regarded frivolously. It is a volume that I shall return to time and time again. Indeed, well into extra time. " - Lyn Ebenezer, Gwales
"This book seems to define Tim's raison dêtre. That is ... football is fun; and we aint all beer-swilling oiks. But Tim's message also seems to be: Open your eyes when you next travel, for there is a world beyond Subway and cheap foreign lager..." - David Collins