Chester Alamo & Costello
Book review by Tom Bottle 13/11/2010
The Globe, a Chicago sports pub. A baldy fan looks up at a match on the screen; a three inch cut on the back of his head is Everton’s Tim Cahill in profile. The pic that sticks in a book full of photographs of mostly ex-pats up at 5 am every match day to watch their team in the English Premier League, or any other beamed in. A tough ask trudging comatose through deep snow in the Windy City, where - as everywhere in the States - ‘soccer’ fans are simply called pussies.
Thousands of miles from ‘home’, as the essays punctuating the book explain, it’s about trying to regain a lost sense of belonging among the instant camaraderie of fellow fans as much as United, Spurs, Liverpool, the Villa, Kilmarnock, or Boca Juniors.
Feeling, that’s the nub. How can a photograph, no matter how colourful, get across that emotion of connecting, just for a moment, with all those people left behind, when the ball hits the back of the net? It can, and does in the section called ‘Extra-Time’ in the woman, in a royal blue shirt (Chelsea? Paris Saint-Germain, or Deportivo Cruz Azul, Primera Division de Mexico?), hands gripped, touched to her lips, fixed on the unseen screen.
If they weren’t strangers in a strange land you would say The Globe is a themed pub (God help us!), with scarves and shirts of every colour and sponsor nailed to walls and displayed in glass cabinets. The inevitable contrived look only forgivable because of the need to express who you are and where you’re from. Even so, many shots lack action (fans staring up at tellies) and become a bit samey, and none of the fans look nutty enough to kick the cat or let a 4-0 hiding really ruin their week. Partly because of that there are few characters, most faces being smooth, hopeful, and aged twenty-five to forty-five. Reminds me of O’Neill’s when the games on; full of kids who don’t care and not an arl fella in sight. No banter, no atmosphere, no effin’ & blindin’ at one of your own players for ninety minutes and then jumpin’ and screamin’ with the rest when he volleys home the winner!
Then again, The Globe’s got no problem on that score. After all, every nationality under the sun is in there drinking and supporting every team under it. Half of them seemingly playing on the same night. The banter, the craic. The Globe, yeah, I get it now. Cheers!
PS Chester Alamo & Costello, the name is his Spanish & Irish heritage teamed up and a nod to the great strike partnerships of the past before the lone striker took over. Ah! Toshack & Keegan, Dalglish & Rush, the two Bobs – Birmingham City’s Latchford & Hatton, Shearer & Sutton, Sheringham & Beardsley. It all comes full circle, Torres &……? Well, maybe not.
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