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Review: Warwick student Johnnie Lowery’s ‘Six Added Minutes’

I am probably the furthest away from a football fan as you can get – I swiftly change the channel when it pops up on TV, roll my eyes at sports news, and am still confused at how anyone can sit through even six minutes of a game. To put it simply, I don’t have a care for football. Yet surprisingly, Six Added Minutes made me feel quite the opposite while reading. When Johnnie Lowery, author and Warwick student, told me “I’ve written it in a way that people who aren’t into football at all can still enjoy it,” I’ll admit I did have my doubts. But, from the very first page, I was drawn in.

The book is narrated by the author himself, describing his experience of following his beloved football club, Sutton United, all the way from age 13 to the present day. His recounts of watching the matches are fast-paced and cleverly entwine facts about the players or overall club. Especially at the end, I did find myself rooting for Sutton’s success and almost couldn’t read fast enough to hear the results. I have never been to a football match, but I can certainly imagine the tension, excitement and thrill of watching one, and Johnnie manages to recreate this well in his writing.

it was the personal anecdotes about each match and even Johnnie’s life outside of football that really made the book for me

In fact, I think I actually much prefer this written form of a football match. The clear narration made everything easy to understand and I could keep up with the game. I didn’t feel like an outsider from football at all. Also, the fact I thankfully didn’t have to devote 90 minutes or more of my time to each match in the book, like I would for a real game, meant my interest definitely didn’t falter.

But, despite the book’s clear focus on the Sutton United football team, it was the personal anecdotes about each match and even Johnnie’s life outside of football that really made the book for me. From queuing up for five hours to get a ticket for Sutton United’s match against Arsenal, to still somehow watching the game with a bleeding nose after being hit by an over-excited fan, the book really opened up my eyes to how much football really means to some people. The stories of the celebrations after the match were particularly light-hearted, as was the overall voice of the book.

Johnnie’s personal life saw his journey through school – GCSEs to A Levels – and even touched on his love life. We even hear of him crashing a flat party with one of his friends. As a student around the same age as the author, it meant the book was quite relatable and I felt really connected to him. Therefore, when the story shifted from his life back to football, I still remained interested in what I was reading.

Dare I say, the book may even influence me to be more sympathetic towards fans when their team loses

It’s hard to criticise the narrator of a story when he’s a real person I somewhat know and is at the same University as me, but he was really likeable. The book did make me laugh at points and the fact he sometimes even poked fun at himself added to his likeability. However, that’s not to say I didn’t find his constant prioritisation of football slightly problematic, but I can hardly criticise someone trying to be happy.

So, while Six Added Minutes definitely hasn’t convinced me to go watch a football game live or on TV any time soon, despite how engaging the match reports were, it has given me a better understanding of football fans and some respect for their devotion to a team. Dare I say, the book may even influence me to be more sympathetic towards fans when their team loses. Whether you’re a football fan or not – I think this book will certainly shed a new light on football and its fans for you.

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