BOTW Reviews – The Best of “Down Goes Brown”Posted: 30/12/2012
“The Best of Down Goes Brown: Greatest Hits and Brand New Classics-to-Be from Hockey’s Most Hilarious Blog” by Sean McIndoe (John Wiley and Sons publishing)
Available on Amazon and as an e-book
Price: ￡11.69 (paperback)/£10.52 (Kindle edition)
As I got this book for Christmas, I thought I’d try something a bit different and give the BOTW reviewing treatment to some other hockey related bits starting with this recent…ish book release.
My sister got this book for Christmas which impressed me in a couple of ways; 1. My sister, along with the rest of my family knows very little about hockey so for her to buy this for me was a pleasant surprise and 2. I love Down Goes Brown.
For those of you not familiar with the premise, Sean McIndoe aka Down Goes Brown is arguably one of the hottest hockey blogs on the internet. What started in 2008 as a way for a Toronto Maple Leafs fan to poke fun at all things NHL (including the Leafs) now sees the site as an epicentre for hockey humour online. McIndoe now lends his talents to Canada’s National Post newspaper twice a week and is a contributor to ESPN’s “Grantland” website, one of the most read sites on the internet. The fact that hockey heavyweights Bob McKenzie and James Duthie of TSN both provided forewords for the book should tell you of the high regard he’s held in.
The book is essentially a collection of the blog’s best offerings with a few new pieces added especially. Ranging from McIndoe’s own comparisons between the NHL and other sports like baseball and mixed martial arts to reports from his “spies” into things like how the NHL dishes out suspensions, how a trade call takes place and even the application form that Gary Bettman had to fill out for the job of commissioner in 1993.
The great strength of the book is just how astute McIndoe is. We all have our observations about hockey but we’re never that articulate. Along with never being shy of reminding us all of a few of his and Leafs Nation’s hockey truths (Wendel Clark is apparently God reincarnate and Kerry Fraser will never, EVER be forgiven) he’s also massively in tune with the greater humour of the wider NHL fan community. The world of the Toronto Maple Leafs can be somewhat all encompassing, this is a team with it’s own TV channel and a book purely on one team wouldn’t have that mass appeal but DGB laughs along as Tim Thomas being a bit of a nutjob, it pokes fun at organisations like Columbus who seem to be in a perpetual state of rebuilding despite not having ever actually built anything to rebuild; nobody is safe. At the same time, whilst everyone is fair game the humour is never nasty. Pointed maybe but never overly harsh.
Being honest, unless you have an ok understanding of the NHL then a fair chunk of the book might be lost on you. There are bits about that brand of hockey that translate for all fans but references to Eric Lindros’ draft fiasco and Vesa Toskala will fly over your head if you are not in the know. This is certainly not a book to give to someone to introduce them to the sport either, it will be like showing the works of John Stuart Mill to your cat.
For all the humour in it, the final chapter is a funny and also touching piece from McIndoe to his then newly born son about why he will be a Maple Leafs fan like his dad that will appeal to fans of any team, made all the more poignant by the message at the end that when your team finally does win the big one, it will be all the more sweeter as a result of all the years of harship of having to wait. It’s a touching reminder of why any of us support any team in any sport and if you’re going to have to wait for your triumph, you might as well laugh along the way.