HCST caught up with former Trust Director and author Greg Whitaker to find out all about his new book…
1. What was the inspiration to write your memoir on football?
My main inspiration was Nick Hornby. Last year, I read his fantastic football-inspired memoir Fever Pitch and it struck a cord with me. I knew I’d never be able to write a similarly original book with such mass appeal. However, I thought I could give it a go. The past 20 years of Hull City’s history has been remarkable, but it’s been a story which had largely gone unrecognised in terms of the national interest. I thought if I could combine the story of the club’s dramatic rise – from bottom of the Football League to European football – with my own changing relationship with the modern game I love, there might be an interesting story in there somewhere. Luckily a publisher agreed!
2. Tell us about the book?
I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You offers a personal, heartfelt yet tellingly critical survey of the changing world of football fandom. It provides an emotional insight into the modern game from the perspective of a bona fide fanatic who has experienced all the highs and lows of football’s last 20 years. With City at its core, I started writing this book for selfish reasons – almost as a form of cathartic therapy with the aim of better understanding my changing relationship with football, love and my hometown club. Yet, I hope the reader may be able to take something greater away from my story. While the memories I write about are clearly very personal to me specifically, I hope the exploration of the transforming face of football, and in turn my own changing relationship with my own passion, is relatable and at least of some interest to other fans.
3. You ask the question has our love of football developed into an addiction? Did you find the answer?
I like to think an answer to this question was broadly reached. Of course, the subjective and divisive nature of modern football dictates I would be foolish to give a certain answer one way or the other. However, readers of the book will likely be able to tell which side of the argument I eventually come down on.
4. Why should our members purchase a copy?
The book tells the story of a once fanatic football, and specifically Hull City, supporter who is now questioning his love for the modern game. The HCST was set up as an organisation designed to protect and represent loyal City fans in the complicated and murky world of modern football. I know I am not the only one who, despite still being fanatical about their football team, finds themselves dreaming and yearning for past days. Days when you were a fan because you loved football and your club unconditionally, and not just because it’s become a habit you cannot break for a fear of missing out on an unlikely return to the glory days. I know many members of the Trust feel the same way and I’d like to think my story rings true with a lot of these fans.
5. Where can fans purchase a copy?
‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’ is available in all good bookshops – WH Smith, Waterstones, Blackwells etc. It is also available online on Amazon or direct from the publisher’s website at pitchpublishing.co.uk.
6. Hull City play a huge part in the book, when and how did your love for the tigers develop?
As I describe in some length in the book, my love for City started when my dad first took me to Boothferry Park in 2001. City were playing Halifax Town and our 3-0 victory represents the first live football match I ever witnessed. From then on I caught the bug, barely missing a home game for the next 15 years. I’m lucky enough to have witnessed City’s most successful ever decade during this period, but I’d like to think I’d have turned up regardless. Something happened on that cold autumnal day in 2001 and I’ve never looked back. Supporting City is a habit impossible to break. While the recent few seasons have seen me stop attending Home games all together, the love for the club has never diminished. I cannot wait for the day the club is under new ownership and I feel I can comfortably return to the KCOM as a week in, week out regular.
7. What are your thoughts on City at the early stages of a new season?
I’m quietly very impressed with the start we’ve made. Another summer of complete upheaval and a spate of unproven players did have me worried, but I think we’ve found a good young manager in Grant McCann. That being said, I would take 21st place if it was offered now. Anything other than relegation would be a success in my eyes. Championship survival and a new ownership would prove a dream season for me.
8. Can you name an all time Hull City XI?
I’ve been incredibly lucky as a City fan, seeing some of the best players in the club’s history. I think I’d go with a diamond formation – 41212:
Rosenior, Turner, Maguire, Dawson
9. What lies ahead? Will there be more books?
I love writing and am now fortunate enough to do it as a full time career. I’d like to think I certainly will write more books in the future. Will Hull City or football be the subject once again? Who knows?
10. Finally if you could re-visit one Hull City match, which would it be and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt it would be Sheffield Wednesday away in December 2004. There were 8,000 travelling City fans in the Leppings Lane end that night, (depressingly a number not far off our average home attendances this season) and I was lucky enough to be one of them. After 19 years in the bottom division, it seemed like City’s biggest league fixture in a generation. Thanks to a Barmby screamer it was a night to remember. In the future, if I could experience a City atmosphere even half as good as the one that night I’d be a happy man. Incredible match.