McMahon, M., & Simpson, W. – Freedom Through Football Book

Freedom Through Football coverDon’t be put off by the title, for this book is about much, much more than football (which, incidentally, is now just one of three sports currently played by the various club teams). The Cowfolk, as they are collectively known, are a community-based sports and social club from the heart of inner-city Bristol, who have helped redefine what’s possible when you get a group of amateur sportspeople, professional drunks, activists, misfits and ne’er-do-wells (alongside a few ordinary, decent, everyday folk such as your humble author) together.

The book charts the first 20 years of the club’s history from 1992 to the present day, warts and all. There are tales of dodging army check points in Chiapas during a visit to play teams in the Zapatista communities, taking part in cricket matches in Compton LA against ex-gangsters, heading to the West Bank and literally leaving their mark on the Israeli apartheid wall, and organising Alternative World Cups attended by people from as close as Bedminster to as far away as São Paulo (via Lithuania and the South African township of Diepkloof). There have been a few sad losses during the journey (and quite a few happy additions too), the occasional harsh word, partings of ways, fallouts, fall-ins, love affairs, babies and hangovers. But mostly, it’s about being a part of something that exemplifies everything that is good in human nature.

The book is 229 pages, nicely supplemented with plenty of images (many previously unseen) and extra info, with an additional 32 pages of colour pics (including a couple of that Banksy fellow hanging out with the Cowfolk in Chiapas and doing some rare hand-painted pieces in the villages).

I could be accused of a certain bias with this review, for this book is about my adopted family. And it’s true that the friendships and love I’ve found among this loopy bunch have enriched my life enormously. But I think these tales can be enjoyed, and and the ideals embraced, by anyone who believes that life can be different if we dare to be free.

Iron Column Records have a few copies for sale at cover price (£9.99), including FREE postage in the UK, with all proceeds going to anti-fascist causes.

Free Noise #13

Football Bootleg
Artist: Subhumans
Title: Football Bootleg
Source: CD LP
Bitrate: V0 VBR
Running time (h:m:s): 01:12:48
Size (mb): 123.6
Label: None
Year: 2001
Notes: Split into 2 folders for upload but can be burned as .wav files on one CD if needed. Best listened / burnt to CD without gaps.

Folder 1:
1. Intro
2. All Gone Dead
3. So Much Money
4. Can’t Hear The Words
5. Work Experience
6. Don’t Wanna Die
7. Society
8. Evolution
9. Apathy
10. Rats
11. Joe Public
12. It’s Gonna Get Worse
13. Where’s The Freedom
14. New Age

Folder 2:
15. Business Men
16. Point Of View (previously unreleased track!)
17. Human Error
18. Animal
19. Labels
20. Reality Is Waiting For A Bus
21. Mickey Mouse
22. Drugs Of Youth
23. Rain
24. Peroxide
25. Parasites
26. Reason For Existence
27. Religious Wars

I really hope there’s no need to introduce this band. If you haven’t heard (of) them, you’ll have to stay behind after class for extra ‘Punk Rock 101’ lessons.

This set was captured through the desk at Fiddlers Club, Bristol, on 13.06.01. The gig was a benefit for an alternative World Cup tournament that I was involved with, and the CD was released soon afterwards to raise a few more quid (which it successfully did). Only a few hundred were made and the bootleg was fully approved by the band as a few of them were taking part in the ball-kicking exercise too.

There’s no two ways about it, this a mighty fine recording of a classic live set. It includes an early version of ‘Point Of View’, only just properly released on their latest studio album.
Football Bootleg labelThe band don’t mind folk filesharing (they took down the mp3 section from their site due to bandwidth usage and advised people to do just that), so help yourselves in a guilt-free fashion to this gem. If you like it, buy something from the band / label or go see ’em live and give yourself a great workout at a fraction of the cost of monthly gym membership.

This one’s especially for Andrew J – hope you enjoy it mate.

OP’s opinion: Five

Download music pt. 1
Download music pt. 2