The Boot Room meets Rick Joshua, author of the “Little Bundesliga Book”
With numerous statistics websites and a huge amount of written information, the choice of which informative material to read about football appears to grow year upon year for sports fans. Most of these new developments, though, are available to us over the internet – whether with websites like The Boot Room, ebooks and even podcasts or videos. There is, however, still something to be said for the physical approach of a book made of paper and ink, and one new, exciting project that has been announced recently is an obvious example of this.
Following years of documenting all things German football online – from the national team, to FC Bayern, to the Bundesliga in general – German football aficionado Rick Joshua has decided to start a project called the “Little Bundesliga Book”, a pocket-sized information book dedicated to Germany’s best clubs and the fan culture surrounding them. He has started a Kickstarter to get funding for the project to be realised, and the book to be released into the world. TBR invited Rick to explain the “Little Bundesliga Book” and the ideas behind it.
TBR: What is the “Little Bundesliga Book” all about?
Rick: The Little Bundesliga Book is essentially what it says on the tin – or rather cover. It is a series of facts, some serious and some trivial, on all of the thirty-six Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga clubs. There are four pages on each club, with the first two covering general and historical data and the second two covering the previous season, in this case 2014. The data ranges from best results and highest goalscorers, through to the beer you can buy at each ground.
TBR: How did you come up with the premise for the book?
Rick: One afternoon I was doing a statistical project on FC Bayern München, the club I support, based on their domestic trophy cabinet. Inspired by another little pocket book, I thought about putting this data in graphical form rather than ordinary boring text. I worked quite nicely, and I used the template to create similar pages on a couple of other Bundesliga teams. It gathered momentum from there.
TBR: How did you originally get interested in the Bundesliga?
Rick: I have been a football fan for a long time, and was always a Germanophile as a child. One day when FC Bayern were playing Liverpool in the then European Cup, I thought I’d support them – nearly everybody else at the time supported Liverpool. Bayern eventually lost that tie on away goals as Liverpool went on to win the final, but blue touchpaper had been lit. From that point on I was addicted to German Fußball!
TBR: Following on from that, who – if anyone – have you specifically aimed the book at? Does it cater for a wider audience?
Rick: While being primarily aimed at fans of the Bundesliga, there is something in the Little Bundesliga Book for everybody. The facts and stats will keep hardcore fans interested and even allow them to learn that little bit more about the other clubs, while the colourful pages will hopefully make younger football fans more interested in the German league. The trivia is also interesting, even for those who may not be football fans – this in turn led to idea of the “Top Trumps” style game with the second of the fours cards as the basis.
TBR: How much literature is there for English speaking Bundesliga fans at the moment, and how do you think the book could change this?
Rick: German football has become increasingly popular in recent years, and there is lot more about the Bundesliga in English than when I was young – when the most you’d hear about German football was during major tournaments like the FIFA World Cup. That said, most English-speaking fans only have a general interest, with many not knowing much more than the big two – FC Bayern and BVB. The Little Bundesliga book shows that there are another sixteen teams in the top flight in Germany, along with another eighteen in the 2. Bundesliga. The facts will hopefully draw more people in and find out more.
TBR: Could you see this format working with other leagues – such as the Premier League, for example?
Rick: This is actually something I have looked at as a long-term concept. Some of the features are actually unique to Germany: no other league has such a deep fan culture (with every club having a dedicated stadium anthem) and as far as I know you cannot find a dedicated stadium beer label in any other country. But as far as the basic stats and facts are concerned, this can work. I have even had a friend ask me about creating something similar for the Dutch Eredivisie.
TBR: How did you begin researching the book? It must have been difficult knowing where to start!
Rick: It actually was an organic process. I started out with the domestic trophy list, then basic details like the stadium name and capacity, geographical location and Facebook likes. Then came the historical statistics, which saw me trawl through a number of German websites to get the figures. More difficult was arranging all of the icons, squares, circles and blobs on the pages.
TBR: Did you have any difficult with finding some of the more obscure statistics, especially at the more obscure clubs?
Rick: For the statistics, websites like transfermarkt.de and fussballdaten.de were perfect. For the beer labels I went to each club website, likewise for other details like memberships and Facebook likes. More difficult however were club songs and nicknames. While some club anthems such as FC Bayern’s “Stern des Südens” are pretty famous, others are more obscure. Finding out club nicknames was harder than I first thought, including my discovery that SV Sandhausen doesn’t actually have one. (If there are any SVS fans who can enlighten me, I’m all ears!)
TBR: What was the most interesting fact you stumbled upon while researching the book?
Rick: I stumbled across quite a few interesting facts, but perhaps the most intriguing was that of RB Leipzig only having eight members. Okay, that may have increased slightly by now!
TBR: How can we contribute to getting the full thing published?
Rick: I have set up Kickstarter project, with the aim of getting the A6 pocket book published with three different covers. In addition, there will also be a pack of thirty-six Top Trump style cards – after playing a few games you will soon have all of those stats burned into the memory. You can contribute by going to the Kickstarter page and being as generous as you can, but everything will receive a thank you and an email of one of the HQ graphic files. At the top end, if you are a massive fan and a bit of a trivia nut yourself you can contribute a club fact to replace the one I have used.
In every instance, contributors and backers will get their names mentioned in the final release.
To find out more about the Little Bundesliga Book, click here.
To contribute to Rick’s Kickstarter, click here.
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