For rugby or football fans, “This is what we are” catapults you into experiencing the unaskable: what happens to you when your club suddenly dies?
Meet Jack. Jack was born in Trinidad and lives in Bologna, Italy, which he has made his home. But his spiritual home is just up the Po Valley in Parma, of all places, in a rugby stadium.
A season ago, that would have read “the home of his rugby team”. But market forces mean Jack’s club - Rugby Parma - can no longer afford to field a professional team in its name. It’s joined forces with another club to create a new team with a different name, different colours and different faces.
Jack had lived and breathed Parma Rugby for the best years of his life. His rugby friends had lived every Saturday or Sunday at the stadium for longer than they could remember. Some had been to Parma matches in the womb. It was what had set their blood coursing for a lifetime. And now it was all over.
Except there was this Frankenstein baby tugging at their heels, clamouring for the place in their hearts which still had the contours of their old team, a space that couldn’t be filled.
This compact book of short, powerful, thought-provoking episodes – each like the crucial moments in a match – traces the heartbeat of Parma’s recent glories into the season of mourning when Jack and his Rugby Parma friends had to try and discover who they were again.
But it’s also much more than that, with broader reflections on rugby and indeed football around Europe and even the States.
If you’re the girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, son, daughter or close friend of one of those splendid lunatics who seems to live only for their team, this book will give you a unique insight into what makes their hearts beat and their passions live. Into what they are.