In interview and analysis, Jimmy Burns uses the experiences of these outsiders as his own passport to the heart of the Camp Nou, returning with a hugely enjoyable history of the team and it's fanatically nationalistic support.
Unique amongst the world's biggest clubs, Barcelona has stayed true to it's origins as a quasi-democratic institution. It is effectively a private members club, made up of the 120,000 supporters whose subscriptions bankroll the team, but a sense of ownership extends across Catalonia itself.
At the heart of the book is the struggle for this unique identity to survive the commercial colonisation of the sport.
Burns is a sensitive and intelligent interpreter of what is becoming, for better and worse, a forgotten language of regional tribalism in football. It may not be many years before his study of this enigmatic club is regarded as a definitive memorial to the last great love affair of what was once a people's passion. --Alex Hankin