After jetting around the world, Stephen Rea left Belfast to settle in New Orleans in 2004. Life in the Deep South proved to be startlingly different from that in Northern Ireland, and Rea struggled to find an outlet for his love of soccer. Before long, the Ulsterman stumbled upon Finn McCool's pub and the wonderfully eccentric, international crowd that gathers there to watch European football games.
Frank "the Tank," the pot-growing Dutch national; Dave "the Rave" Ashton, a forty-six-year-old physiotherapist from Manchester dubbed "the world's oldest teenager"; and Benji Haswell, a former political activist from South Africa, are three of the rare and vibrant characters who populated the pub's stools. Soon Rea, along with this idiosyncratic mix of locals and ex-pat regulars, formed a pub soccer team, joined a league, and started dreaming of victory.
On August 28, 2005, with former pro footballer Scottish Steve "Macca" McAnespie as their coach, members of the team sat in the pub discussing their upcoming match. The next day, Hurricane Katrina enveloped the Gulf Coast, scattering Rea and his teammates around the world in seek of shelter and stability.
This luminous, gripping work follows the author and Finn regulars as they rebuild their lives and their team. With a masterful combination of dry humor and astute profundity, Rea reflects on his adopted city, providing powerful insight into the lives of the foreign-born and minority groups that stayed behind during Katrina due to the little they had to lose. Filled with equally hilarious and sobering anecdotes and no shortage of good soccer stories, Rea seamlessly weaves his experiences alongside his teammates' harrowing survival stories. A breathtaking and incredible debut celebrating camaraderie, sportsmanship, and survival, Finn McCool's Football Club stands out as a haunting and powerful memoir filled with laughter, loss, astonishment, and of course, soccer.
Barnes & Noble.com
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.