“This is a book for fans of New Orleans, of the universal ball game, of ex-pats and of pubs. Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools.”
––The Irish American Post
“Rea’s book brings one of the biggest stories of the century down to a touching, emotional, personal level in a solid debut effort.”
––Phil Schoen, GolTV commentator
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 27, 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.
About the Author
Stephen Rea is a freelance writer who has contributed to national and international newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for more than twenty years. He has worked for the Sun in the United Kingdom, as well as regional newspapers in the news, features, sports, and entertainment departments. He lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans, Louisiana.
FINN MCCOOL’S FOOTBALL CLUB
The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead
By Stephen Rea
352 pp. 5½ x 8½