From the Union Jack News (www.ujnews.com), here is my book review of Stephen Rea's latest book!
By Guest Reviewer/Laurel Meadows
WHEN regular reviewer Karen O’Keefe received Stephen Rea’s book Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead, she immediately judged the book by its cover and assumed it was about football. As Karen has no interest in football, American or The Beautiful Game, she promptly mailed Rea’s book to me, a card-carrying Pompey supporter.
Rea’s book grabbed me from the opening paragraph, with its first-hand accounts of surviving Hurricane Katrina and its terrible aftermath. The book may begin with a hurricane, but the real story does not.
Imagine, if you will, moving to a new home in a new country with your new wife. Now imagine that you have chosen to move to a city that is arguably the most difficult to outgrow being an “outsider.” After freelance writer Stephen Rea had travelled the world a bit, and was ready for a change, he and his wife Julie packed up and moved to New Orleans. That is where the real story begins. Rea and his wife have come to remember those early days as “the good ’ol days” in comparison with what was to follow.
After leaving Rea’s native Northern Ireland, he and his “ever-chilled” (as in “pass me another jumper”) wife Julie, settled in New Orleans, a city they had both visited, but one in which they had never lived. While Julie started a new job, Stephen worked on writing a comedic novel set in The City of the Dead, completing 100,000 words.
But, he realized, something was missing: friends. Getting a bit of cabin fever, he succumbed to the call of his lifelong passion: football. Finding an “over 40s” team was difficult, but eventually Rea succeeded. His new team’s routine was simple: show up to pitch, play game, and leave pitch until next practice. There was none of the good-natured banter and camaraderie he was used to back home.
Although Rea had not wanted to fall back on the ubiquitous Irish Pub, he found himself at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, a bit of home in New Orleans. Everyone was welcome there, no matter which colours they wore. Even better, Finn’s was starting a football club... for “Over 40s”... an answer to Rea’s prayer.
Time passed, and Finn’s Football Club (FC) was days away from its first real match when Katrina began its rainy approach. Although they watched the news with the rest of us, they, like the rest of us, thought the storm would pass without much fanfare. Obviously they, like the rest of us, were sorely mistaken.
The close-knit mates of Finn McCool’s FC rode out Katrina, some in Houston, some still in New Orleans. Although Rea’s book has football as a continuing thread, it’s not a football book. Although Hurricane Katrina is a strong player, Rea’s book is also not another depressing “I survived the Mother-of-all-Hurricanes” book. It is a book about friends and friendships new, old, and undiscovered. And it’s about what is important in life. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as will you. And Karen is now sorry she judged this book by its cover.
About the Author: Stephen Rea has been a freelance writer for the past 20 years. He owned a travel agency in Northern Ireland for 12 years, giving him the opportunity to travel to all seven continents, all 50 US states, and many countries around the world. Rea and his wife Julie continue to live in New Orleans.