When the 2006 World Cup kicks off this summer, local Ely author and journalist Chris Hunt (pictured right with Geoff Hurst and Peter Shilton) will be hoping for a good tournament. His book, ‘World Cup Stories: The History Of The FIFA World Cup’ (Interact) has just been published and the feelgood factor created by a successful England campaign could help its sales go through the roof. “If England do well this summer it will really help,” says Chris Hunt. “Nothing cheers up the country more than a great World Cup campaign.”
A former Editor of Match, Britain’s biggest selling football magazine, Ely based Chris Hunt is a freelance journalist, magazine editor and broadcaster, who splits his time between football and rock music journalism. In the last few years he has been Editor of many of the Special Editions of Q, Mojo, NME and Uncut, producing high quality magazines devoted to artists such as The Beatles, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain, and musical genres like mod and punk rock. But this year is a football year for Chris. “It’s the World Cup,” he says, “so I’ll be busy all year.”
World Cup Stories’ is the book that accompanies the BBC TV series.
‘World Cup Stories’ is the book that accompanies the BBC TV series of the same name, airing weekly on BBC2 from May 7 at 9pm. Chris spent three months writing the book, having been given access to all of the interviews that the BBC had done for their television series. “The BBC had travelled all over the world, interviewing the great players and coaches of World Cup history, like Rivelino, Michel Platini, Carlos Alberto, Zinédine Zidane, Sepp Maier, Just Fontaine, Mario Kempes, Bobby Charlton and Ossie Ardíles, – they gave me dozens of interviews to work with,” says Chris. “I added in many of my own interviews, players I’ve talked to through my years of football journalism, players like Jairzinho of Brazil, Gordon Banks, David Platt. I had also interviewed Jack Taylor, the referee of the 1974 World Cup final, and that proved invaluable too. He was the first referee to award a penalty in a World Cup final. He awarded it to Holland so early in the game that West Germany hadn’t even touched the ball. Just a few minutes later he gave another penalty – but that’s how World Cup fortunes can turn. I tried to make this kind of drama come across in the book.”
His book is a chronological telling of the World Cup story, but rather than simply a dull retelling of the football statistics, it looks at some of the background themes that have made the competition what it is today. It dwells on the importance of World Cup success to Brazilian national identity, and the creation of Pelé’s beautiful team of 1970; the impact of British isolation from world football in the first half of the 20th Century and the rise and fall of England’s international ambitions after victory in 1966; the importance of World Cup success to the economic revival of West Germany after World War II; the battles with corruption that have dogged the Italian game since their much-disputed victory at ‘Mussolini’s World Cup’ in 1934. All these subjects and more are illuminated by a stylish coffee table design and more than 200 vintage photographs from the history of the tournament.
Chris Hunt will spend the summer in Germany covering the World Cup.
The PR offensive has just started for his book. Extracts of ‘World Cup Stories’ have already been published in Four Four Two magazine, but in the run up to the World Cup The Times will also be running a serialization. And when the tournament arrives, Chris Hunt will spend the summer driving up and down the autobahns of Germany, covering the World Cup for Four Four Two magazine. It will once again give him a close-up look at the England team, at their training sessions and for player interviews after the game.
Four years ago in Japan he kept a video diary for the BBC1 that was included in a television programme titled ‘Beckham For Breakfast’, following three sets of England fans around the 2002 World Cup. This time his travels might not be featured on the TV, but when he returns to Ely after the final on July 9, he will have just a few weeks to put together the second edition of ‘World Cup Stories’. “Usually you have to wait a few years for a second edition,” he says, “But after the tournament I’ll be updating the book to include all this summer’s action.”
Later this year Chris will also see the publication of the second edition of his definitive football encyclopedia, ‘The Complete Book Of Football’. The first edition has already sold 60,000 copies and was described by The Independent as ‘Formidably comprehensive’, but the second edition will see not only a UK edition, published by Harper Collins, but six foreign language editions, including German and Japanese, and an American edition, snappily titled ‘The Complete Book Of Soccer’. When he has a few minutes spare he will also be fulfilling his role of Editor of the ‘Match Of The Day Annual’, which he does for five weeks each year. “Every two years there is a major football tournament and I find myself unbelievably busy,” he says. “But I couldn’t think of a better way to earn a living.”
The book is available now from all bookshops nationwide and from amazon.co.uk