I wasn’t sure whether to post this on the Brown or the Orange Wedge. As the latter has come to life of late, I guess it can sit with its new sporting buddies.

The premise of the book is simple. The author picks eight of the world’s biggest football derbies and slants it as a travelogue. Most of the derbies are geographical; two teams, one city, polarised support. Woven within each story is the history of animosity between the sides, some autobiographical musings and a dusting of context.

Where the book works is in those instances where the absurdity of the situation is exposed; young Spurs fans arguing that Arsenal should never have been admitted to the top flight after the First World War or the sectarian vitriol of Rangers versus Celtic.

The scramble for tickets in Istanbul captures all the confusion and passion of the lead up to a big game. Scams and tension on the streets, colour and noise in the stadium. In Prague the language barrier proves impenetrable and he misses the game altogether, cursing his luck when he discovers it finished 4-4.

The chapter on the Spanish Superclassico is poor and all the more so as it opens the book. A shame, the scene was set up with Figo’s first return to the Nou Camp since his switch to Madrid. Goodhead’s inability to speak any language other than English limits his own insight and he fails to sufficiently grasp the concept of morbo.

The writing comes alive when he ventures further afield, America versus Guadalajara at the Azteca and the Argentine Derbi at Boca Juniors crumbling stadium. The latter is nicely done, set against the backdrop of an Argentine economy on its knees, all tickertape and punch-ups. A tangible class divide sperates the supporters and for once a local accompanies the author to translate the chanting and abuse. At other games he brings along disinterested mates or relatives to act as a rational foil against his enthusiasm and hammers the point too bluntly.

In the Milan chapter Goodhead looks back to his schoolboy experiences of playing football and the derby like games of his childhood. Bizarrely he is from the same small town as I am. He was in the line up of the fee paying school’s eleven, I played for the local comprehensive team. He describes the friction of the local derby game and how much it meant to beat us. God, we hated those posh kids.