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Finn McCool's Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead

Finn McCool's Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead

5.0 26
by Stephen Rea

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In this captivating debut, Belfast native Stephen Rea crafts a story of sportsmanship and strength built around an unusual pub soccer team in the heart of New Orleans. Set against the dark backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, this luminous and infinitely inviting memoir traces the affecting stories of Rea and his hilarious and dynamic friends and teammates. Comprised


In this captivating debut, Belfast native Stephen Rea crafts a story of sportsmanship and strength built around an unusual pub soccer team in the heart of New Orleans. Set against the dark backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, this luminous and infinitely inviting memoir traces the affecting stories of Rea and his hilarious and dynamic friends and teammates. Comprised primarily of ex-pats over the age of 35, Finn McCool's Football Club boasts a dynamic mix of idiosyncratic personalities. From Macca, the team's Scottish coach and a hard-drinking ex-professional player, to its outspoken South African landscape gardener/striker Benji, each character comes vibrantly to life in Rea's fresh and frank prose. Hilarious moments and poignant reflections shine with equal intensity throughout this multifarious work, which captures the individual experiences of the Finn's players in the wake of Katrina. A literary memoir, soccer story, and tale of survival and resolve, this work is an indefatigable tribute to a city and its residents who determined to play on after their lives were all but washed away.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An uplifting account of friendship, football and overcoming the odds in the face of tragedy. Stephen Rea has scored an impressive winner.” – Derek Rae, senior UEFA Champions League commentator, ESPN

“Funny, touching, troubling and ultimately inspiring story about a crew of colorful characters… who bond at a gritty Irish pub in New Orleans to watch English matches and form an amateur squad that is shattered by Hurricane Katrina.” – Steven Goff, Washington Post

“Given the growing number of books about American soccer fans trapped in a country that doesn’t value or even understand their sport, Rea’s take… adds an enjoyably different perspective. Rea is an agreeable chronicler, and his blend of comedy, tragedy, and social observation moves briskly...Rea’s thoughts on the pains and pleasures of globalism’s diaspora, and the horrors of Katrina and its aftermath, make worthwhile reading.” – Keir Graff, Booklist Online

“Great story about real characters bonded by a passion for football and life.” – Stephen Nicol, ESPN commentator

“This book is hardly just about soccer. It’s about New Orleans through an Irishman’s eyes, an amalgamation of stories and experiences.” – Angus Lind, columnist, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Stephen Rea uses one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history as the backdrop for a love story – not your average love story either, as it’s also the love of a city, the ties that bind friends, and the passion for a sport. Soccer brings fans from around the globe together and that has never been proven more true than in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rea’s book brings one of the biggest stories of the century down to a touching, emotional, personal level in a solid debut effort.” – Phil Schoen, GolTV commentator

Stephen Rea’s gripping tale of how he and his New Orleanian band of futbol player/friends survived Hurricane Katrina and regrouped is a study in tenacity… Sports lovers, particularly those who dig soccer, can find plenty of action within the pages, as well. This is a book for fans of New Orleans, of the universal ball game, of ex-pats and of pubs. Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools.” – The Irish American Post

“Finn McCool’s Football Club is a must-read for soccer fans. The grit and determination displayed by these lads in the face of disaster was amazing. Their spirit and never-say-die attitude is captivating. When the history of soccer is written in the U.S., I hope the players, management, and fans of the Finn McCool’s club will get proper recognition for the major role they were able to play in promoting ‘the Beautiful Game.’” – Tommy Smyth, “the Auld Onion Bag Man,” ESPN commentator

“A powerful and often haunting account, which shows how, in the wake of disaster, the friendships formed by football were all that some survivors had left.” – Jon Spurling, 4-star review, FourFourTwo magazine

“The tale of their quest for football glory and the transplantation of neighborhood football clubs from across the pond has been perfectly told in a fine book written by Irish New Orleanian Stephen Rea...Rea, from Belfast, brings to the table an Irish lyricism, intricate wordplay, occasional gravitas and excellent humor, ultimately producing an extremely readable book that is a snapshot of our city’s times.” – Paul Wegmann, New Orleans Living magazine

“The book follows the team as they cope with the hurricane and its aftermath, and rejoices in the unlikely return of Rea, the club, its members, the pub, and the city itself… The book is an unlikely success story set in an unlikely city.” – New Orleans Review

“As the best sports writing can be, Finn McCools’s is so much more than a book about just a game … it is in the face of what was surely one of the most difficult experiences imaginable that Rea is able to write so powerfully about the importance of family, friendship and football… With his debut Stephen Rea has written a work of literature well worth reading.” –Patrick Thurston, 90 Minutes magazine

“New Orleans is not a place you immediately associate with the beautiful game, nevertheless, the Big Easy is responsible for one of the best books about soccer ever to emerge from this side of the pond… Rea’s account of his experiences forming a pub team and living through Hurricane Katrina with his teammates is a must read for all soccer fans. Anyone who has ran away to America and joined a pub football team will identify with the humor and passion of this incredible story” – David Witchard, First Touch Magazine

“Rea… shares footballers’ stories with realistic details and colorful quotes… More to the point, Rea holds up Finn’s as a model of post-Katrina community spirit.” – Leigh Ann Stuart, New Orleans magazine

“A classic Irish story… Author Stephen Rea has scored a major hit with this book… A must-read book.” – Mark Stokes, The Irish Emigrant

Product Details

Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
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5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

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Meet the Author

Stephen Rea is a freelance writer who has contributed to national and international newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for more than twenty years. He has worked for the Sun in the United Kingdom, as well as regional newspapers in the news, features, sports, and entertainment departments. He lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Finn McCool's Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have limited knowledge of soccer and ireland, but unlimited knowledge of new orleans, and still found this book to be very entertaining, funny and enlightening. I love to hear what my fellow Katrina survivors went through during their evacuation. It definitley brings a sense of normalcy to a not-so-normal situation when you realize that we all went through it together. Anyway, it was a fun book to read and great to get a non-native's perspective on New Orleans. This book is full of funny observations and hilarious/tragic side-stories. A great read!
Bigdad More than 1 year ago
This was a fantatic book. I could not put it down once I started. Mr. Rea's personal account of one of our worst national disasters is gripping. Side note - non-soccer fans will still find this imensely entertaining.
osgood9 More than 1 year ago
Stephen Rea manages to skillfully combine the whimsical world of his pub football team with the disastrous tragedy that struck New Orleans in the form of Hurricane Katrina. For this football (soccer) fanatic, I could very much relate to many of the author's football crazy teammates, all brought together initially by their love of the 'beautiful game' and then by a far more ominous set of circumstances. Rea's matter-of-fact description of the aftermath of Katrina paints a very real picture of utter devastation and despair of post-Katrina New Orleans but ends up as a testament of the human spirit to continue living life and playing football, in the face of great disaster. Highly recommended!
Si More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, wonderful read. I really enjoyed it. Covers the whole range of emotions and Rea is a fantastic writer. Cannot recommend it highly enough. Truly a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
at first, i was a little skeptical about this book. my knowledge of soccer is somewhat limited to champions league semifinals and finals matches. but it did not take long for me to realize that finn's is not a book about soccer. but instead, it is a book about the enduring human spirit, and individuals who faced so much adversity and tradgedy in the wake of hurricane katrina, but who were reunited and kept together through their love of a beautiful city and a beautiful game. i highly recommend this book.
closethedeal More than 1 year ago
Stephen Rea has created an evocative memoir centering around his local pub and it's fledgling football team. As one might imagine colorful characters abound and hilarity ensues when alcohol and football are mixed. There is plenty of serious business as well dealing with issues arising from Katrina and it's aftermath. Various degrees of loss and survivor's guilt are explored honestly and emotionally. Having personally had the privilege of drinking in this pub for a day as well as dealing with the aftermath of NY's own 9/11 disaster this book really hits home. Be not afraid even if you are not a soccer fan or have never been to New Orleans, the themes explored in this book are univeral to the human experience. A very inspiring read and reccomended to all.
PG224 More than 1 year ago
Steven Rea certainly has his eye on the ball in his recollections of Katrina and difficulties faced by the residents of the Gulf Coast in the aftermath. The book does a great job of illustrating the sadness, chaos, confusion, joy, and humor experienced by the locals during a very odd period of time. You don't need to be a sports fan to enjoy the read although it might entice you to pop down to Finn's for a pint....
Superstar_Underdog More than 1 year ago
Having lived through the Katrina experience in New Orleans, I can confirm that Stephen Rea gets it just right... from the minor inconveniences (no garbage collection, no mail delivery, no credit card services) to the major traumas (loss of home, loss of employment, loss of dear ones). Having moved from Northern Ireland only months before the storm, the author gives a unique perspective on this American disaster. Remarkably, however, this is no somber read. It is a humorous and loving study of a collection of colorful characters (hailing from New Orleans and from all around the world) who met pre-Katrina through a mutual love of soccer and became bound together post-Katrina as a community of survivors turned family. As stated in other reviews, one need not have any knowledge of or passion for soccer to enjoy this book. Yet love of the game runs through the pages illuminating its universal appeal. As the one sport played and adored in every corner of the planet, we see its ability to connect people of different nationalities, ages, occupations and languages. After being introduced to the gang at Finn's through this book, you may find yourself wanting to know all the more about the Beautiful Game... and with World Cup a mere year away, the timing is perfect.
SJDCollins More than 1 year ago
Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath had a major impact on a nation and a city. But what about its impact on individual inhabitants? Stephen Rea looks to his friends on his New Orleans pub soccer team and tells their stories. But he does not confine himself to telling stories of suffering. He goes beyond Katrina to tell us more about himself and his team mates so that we have a greater empathy for him and them and hence a greater understanding of the human cost. Many books deal with Katrina at the national or local level. Read this book to understand Katrina at the human level.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book
Dylan_Simonson More than 1 year ago
As a New Orleanian, whose friends and family were affected by Katrina, I feel that this book shows the world a unique and important perspective on both Katrina and New Orleans. The stories are sad, funny, wild, and most importantly true. It's not just a book about soccer, or about Katrina, but about real people and real friendships, hinged together with the uniqueness that is Finn McCool's Pub. It is a must read, eye-opening experience that shows you points of view never touched by the media.
Van_Wackem More than 1 year ago
The humor throughout this book almost makes you forget how devastating Hurricane Katrina really was. Definitely a roller-coaster ride and thoroughly entertaining. Glad I took a chance and bought this - well done Mr Rea.
RichK More than 1 year ago
A thouroughly entertaining account of the impact of the worst natural disaster in American history on a group of guys with a common bond, soccer. Told from the unique perspective of a new New Orleanian with equal parts humor and sentimentality.
SpeedyReader73 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. It is full of drama and is poignant and touching, but it also contains plenty of humor and many very funny stories. It features a group of Americans and expats who live in New Orleans and meet at an Irish pub in the city. They form a soccer team, but as their season is about to start Hurricane Katrina smashes into the Gulf Coast and wipes away their lives. Some of the guys are left behind to face the storm's aftermath while others are scattered around the world. The book tells how the friends filter back to New Orleans to rebuild their lives. Brilliant. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Shedexile 12 months ago
An excellent, but not always comfortable, read. At one level it is the tale of Brit expats thrust into an extraordinary nightmare, It is the graphic detail of living through Katrina which really sticks in the mind. There is the relentless determination of footie fans to play and see their games, come what may. But amid the stories of bravery and kindness the book does not shy away from how people in New Orleans were treated or the cowboys who came to the stricken city to make money of the hurricane victims. Stephen's book is strongly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even for a non-soccer/football enthusiast, this book is a good read with humor and poignancy. It is a must for anyone wanting to understand the tight fellowship between members of a team sport. Stephen Rea leads the reader through the comradeship and bonding of European soccer expats in New Orleans and wraps the story around the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. He writes, “Katrina was a big turning point and it was a neat way people started banding together and I started feeling like a part of the community.” His descriptions of New Orleans post-Katrina are accurate, heartwarming, and sometimes humorous. I’ve learned a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read, and a quintessential bible of the events during and after Hurricane Katrina. It will make you laugh out loud and bring you to the brink of tears.  Range of emotion is as common while reading as the wild, crazy, unbelievable, horrific, and hilarious events unfolding throughout the book.  It is stranger than fiction, but sadder, funnier, and more joyous, because it's real life.  I absolutely loved it, and highly recommend it!
cfabusa More than 1 year ago
A friend who met Stephen in New Orleans bought me this book as a gift and I loved it. He may be a Chelsea fan, but he knows how to write! As a Birmingham fan, the football angle attracted me to the book but this is not a book about football. It's about camaraderie and overcoming adversity. You don't have to be a football fan to enjoy it, so even you Villa supporters should read it, when you learn how to.....
Colincarefree More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book and couldn't put it down, great story, Ive spent time in New Orleans and Stephen Rea's book took me to the disaster as if I was there.
Steve70124 More than 1 year ago
A well written account of one man finding a new home, new friends, and a new team and nearly losing them all. A wonderful cast of characters taking their lumps on and off the pitch, banding together as friends and teamates in the dark months after Katrina. Funny and entertaining, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Bix-man More than 1 year ago
In this funny, poignant, and insightful book, Rea weaves together a vertiginous mix of characters, mishaps, and an unflinching passion for soccer into a luminous tapestry of struggle, rebirth and life in and around a New Orleans working-class pub. New Orleans is the richer for having this wonderful ex-pat author in its number and we hope that more books will come marching out of his compassionately beautiful mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this as a souvenir for my husband on a vacation (he loves a good book more than t-shirts). The author was sitting on the steps of my favorite Florida bookstore signing copies of his book. When he gave me a brief summary of the book, I grabbed one immediately because it sounded like something my husband would like. (He is a soccer guy, a minority in the U.S.) Anyways, when I finished the books I'd brought along for myself, I started reading his souvenir. So glad I did. You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy Stephen Rea's wit as he talks about getting used to the U.S., an eccentric, lively, and loveable city, his quest to see soccer games on T.V., and hear how they all managed through and after Hurricane Katrina. (Which is easy to put in the back of your mind when you don't experience it yourself) Great Book!
SteveM19 More than 1 year ago
It's good to read about the rebirth of a great city through football -- not the pointy kind, the other one -- and the unusual, slightly drunken perspective that Rea provides.
HCTIgerMan More than 1 year ago
I read this book and really enjoyed it. Even through I did not know a lot about soccer, I still enjoyed this book since it is more than a soccer boook. Even if you are not a soccer fan like me, I think you would still enjoy reading this book. So far, I gave this book as Christmas presents to three other people and all three of them enjoyed reading this book too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago