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Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  659 ratings  ·  20 reviews
English writer Phil Ball has put the history of Spanish football into the context of the epomymous Morbo. Hard to pin down in translation (though the author manfully spends a chapter trying to explain the term in its fullest sense), "morbo" encapsulates the fierce rivalry across a club scene fragmented by history, language and politics. The bitter feeling between Barcelona ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 22nd 2011 by WSC Books Limited (first published December 12th 2003)
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Morbo (2003, 2011 update) by Phil Ball is a thorough, well written history of Spanish Football. Phil Ball knows his subject and takes the reader on a tour of the major clubs in Spain and the first club in Spain, Huelva.
He provides a narrative based on ‘morbo’ a sort of loathing antagonism to tie his subject together. It doesn’t really work that well but for anyone interested in football his facts and stories provide enough interest. He also tells tales of his travelling around Spain to write th
It's probably tough to imagine a much better English language book about Spanish football in general. Phil Ball covers the beginning, the (at the time) recent and pretty much every region gets reasonable coverage. For a fan of Spanish football, it's probably essential reading.

With that said, it does have its faults. This book is at its very best when Phil Ball takes us down to the ground or into the seat of a taxi. His descriptions of his conversations with taxi drivers and spectators in the sta
WSC books are simply great reads.
¡Que fantastico! Ok, that was cheesy, but what a book! Phil Ball is an amazing writer. He easily navigates complex socio-political subject matter and ties it in magnificently with the sport he loves. Throughout, he's simultaneously alluding to semi-obscure Shakespeare and dropping $100 words but with the comforting lack of pretension and formality of an old friend. The highest compliment I think I can pay it is this: If you don't like soccer/football, I think you could still like this book

Then t
I enjoy reading Phil Ball's articles and the book is written in a similar vein. However, the narrative drags in a lot of places and the overall structure of the book is not the best. The chapter on Seville was rather disappointing but overall there was a lot of good stuff here - especially around historical context of the big clubs.
Justin Pauls
Very much enjoyed this perspective on La Liga and the history of Spanish soccer. It's an interesting journey that tells you a lot about the various regions in Spain.
Grant Scalf
Jul 07, 2008 Grant Scalf rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spanish league aficionados
This was a great read - if you really want to know the history of Spanish soccer. The book delves in to the many facets of the Spanish culture that is soccer. The key theme is the book's title, Morbo, which means disease in Spanish. Ball talks about the autonomous regions of Spain and how their interactions brought about this morbo feeling in the sport. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the book. If you are looking for something geared more towards Real Madrid and/or Barcelona, this isn't for you. Bal ...more
Less of a chronological historical guide and more of a club by club and rivalry guide with history of the important clubs, regions, and the national team.

Tor!: The Story of German Football. Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger is a better style and history on its respective country than this book, good as it is.
Kim Montague
Again Phil Ball managed to capture our imaginations with his masterly interpretation of the history of Spanish football. He covers everything about the game from beginning to present day Spanish football. The newer release also entails up to the World Cup winning moment for the Spaniards. Personally, I recommend this to all true football fans. It's a great source of knowledge as well.
Leo Susana
Apr 20, 2013 Leo Susana is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: football, sports
I started reading this book last summer ( 2012 ) and was loving it. I set it aside don't remember why, but am pondering whether to start again or pick up where I left off. Morbo dives into the bitter rivalries in Spanish Football and how politics has played a role in how people perceive teams.
Elizabeth Traver
If you ever wanted to know the history of Spanish soccer: how it arrived, the formation of the different Club teams throughout the country and what it might feel like to meet a Spanish soccer fan without actually going to Spain, this is the book for you! It's a darn good read.
Great introduction to Spain -- and not just in footballing terms but also in social, cultural and historical perspectives.

Needs to be updated, though.
This book is excellent.
Phil Ball is an excellent writer: clever, articulate, well-informed, and often funny. I'm sure he could produce great books on any subject. It's good luck for football fans he chose this one.
Some general history of Spanish football followed by chapters on each of the major cities and their teams. Some chapterws more interesting than others. Lacks overall theme
fascinating read and very well written.
the best chapter by far was the betis/sevilla one. glad they updated this to include the world cup.
Dont like it!
After all the great reviews I read I thought this would be the spanish equivalent to 'tor' & 'brilliant orange' it isn't.
After reading it I keep on impressing everyone incl Spaniards, although I never been to Spain :D
Best book on Spanish football out there.
A must read if you're a La Liga fan.
Excellent, as much about Spanish culture as football
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“In Coruña, people sit around on the sea walls or the rocks and stare out to sea, as if they expect Francis Drake to turn up again and sack the city. A contemplative lot, the Galicians.” 2 likes
“The terrible beauty of Spanish football is that someone, somewhere, hates your guts and will always be delighted to demonstrate this when your team comes to town.” 2 likes
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