When I interviewed James Montague at the tail end of last year in relation to the release of his book, When Friday Comes, my last question to him was, What advice do you have for a young writer? His answer was go out and find the stories. Taking heed of his own advice and endorsing the quote on the front of new book ' The Indiana Jones of football writing', Montague travels around the world from 2011 throughout the qualification period for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Montague travels to all corners of the globe from the now famed American Somoa team (who garnered world attention after being defeated by Australia 31-0) which gives the book it's title. Other outposts visited include Lebanon, Curaçao as well as returning to the Middle East, a place of which he wrote with such authority.
Montague is an affable writer, and by placing himself at the heart of the action amongst such eccentric players and equally fanatical fans whilst experiencing the problems of travelling the globe and being an outsider in a strange land. Often he had little money, often he is up against the clock; he makes clear that it is not all warm beaches and glamour, the dedication to the craft of journalism is never in doubt.
While some call him Indiana Jones, for me he is Michael Palin - the polite Englishman ever respectful and yet universally liked by all, able to infiltrate previously restricted areas with ease and gaining access and interviewing those who rarely gain exposure from the world media. Whilst football provides the overall framework for the book, the locations and their residents provide the page-turning material. The final score is not the most important result, more so the bus journey to the ground.
Mixing in top rate observations of new landscapes as well as explaining the sometimes qualifying procedures for these lonely nations; Montague has again written a book that is more travelogue than tome to football.
It got me thinking that if Shakespeare had been born in the twentieth century, he may well have written, 'All the world is football' and with writers like Montague who venture to all corners and continents to cover it with such aplomb, the passion for football will never diminish.
Thirty-One Nil is out on 22 May 2014 from Bloomsbury priced £12.99 for paperback and available on eBook