In the summer of 2001, twelve months before the football World Cup in Japan and four months even before England’s qualification for it, two young men set out overland thousands of miles away. They were not alone. They went with a football table. Not one FA would be safe from their quest to track down and challenge the officials and players of world football en route to, and amidst the heart of, the most celebrated competition of present times. From the famous to the obsolete they fell almost without fail in what must be one of the most fascinating journeys in recent history.
Could they possibly succeed in breaching the notoriously guarded corridors and pitches of professional football? Lacking any credentials and armed only with a football table could they talk their way past security, past suspicion and often out of danger?
Far more than a tale founded on football this is a story that will inspire. The Table traversed 26 countries in its quest from desert floor to mountain peak. Yet in not one was it refused, proving a remarkable passport lighting up the eyes of locals and leading on to far greater and unexpected adventures.
The book is chronological, working from the very first blagged ferry courtesy of the aptly named Miss Hope through to arriving late at the World Cup Final by reason of an audience with Pele. It seeks to engage the reader in each new place by combining the antics of the Table with history and culture. And it is through the unique encounters with the Table that a special insight is gained into each of the 26 countries.
From being embraced by the Iranian national team to sharing sorrow and death in the Himalayas to being invited into the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, there are moments aplenty to enthral even the most hardy of travellers.
Buses, boats, trains, planes and rikshaws sped the Table on its way as, in tandem with the journey, England struggled to qualify. Stray Ukrainian missiles meant the result of the Greece game was unknown to the Table crew for two days and it was only on their charge for the impossible fixture of Iran v Iraq that Beckham’s wonder strike and England’s qualification became known. After a spectacular chain of events involving an ancient mud citadel near the Afghan border, a Swiss model and a Danish Stadium manager it would be Beckham himself who supplied the Table with tickets.
Celebrities, Basque terrorists, Maoist insurgents, Russian soldiers, monks and snowmen graced the Table as it swept to a glorious finale in Japan. It even went one better than England. A World Cup runners up medal, in the company of America’s finest young female modelling talent after being chased by the Japanese CIA and starring on the primetime news slots of English, Japanese and Norwegian TV, was a fine end to this magnificent tale.
After many hours putting pen to paper, the fantasy of publishing a book about it all has finally become a reality. This website is designed to help you share in the adventure, find out more, and help plan the next one.