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 lo-cals 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 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 seeking shelter and stability.
This luminous, gripping work follows the author and Finn regulars as they re-build their lives and their team. With a masterful combination of dry humor and astute profundity, Rea reflects on his adopted city, providing powerful in-sight 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 based out of New Orleans who has con-tributed to national and international newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for over twenty years. He has worked for England‘s Daily News and Western Daily Press in the features, sports, and entertainment depart-ments. When he was only seventeen, the Sun daily newspaper chose him as their first-ever trainee reporter, and he covered a range of news stories, from the Gulf War and terrorist attacks in London to the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Rea attended Campbell College in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He studied journalism at the United Kingdom‘s National Council for the Train-ing of Journalists before joining the Sun. After moving to New Orleans with his wife, Rea won a writing grant from the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Lit-erary Festival in 2006.
After his move to New Orleans, Rea struggled to find an outlet for his love of soccer. He soon discovered an Irish bar called Finn McCool‘s. The eccentric blend of locals and ex-pats at the bar eventually formed a club team and joined a league—the perfect place for Rea to play soccer and express his love of the game. He wrote Finn McCool’s Football Club while he was displaced to Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina, and the story follows not only Rea‘s struggles through that difficult period, but the rest of the team‘s as well.
Stephen Rea‘s eclectic life has led him to more than one hundred countries, all seven continents, and all fifty U.S. states. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he spent his childhood against the backdrop of bombings and shootings in that country during the seventies and eighties. At the age of sixteen, he went on tour with rock star Ozzy Osbourne and later traveled the world as his assistant road manager, contributing a chapter to Osbourne‘s official biography Diary of a Madman. In New Orleans, Rea served as the media relations officer for the Shell Shockers, the city‘s minor league soccer club. Rea lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans, Louisiana
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