Praise for Finn McCool’s Football Club


“Funny, touching, troubling and ultimately inspiring story about a crew of colorful characters… who bond at a gritty Irish pub in New Orleans to watch English matches and form an amateur squad that is shattered by Hurricane Katrina.” – Steven Goff, Washington Post

“Stephen Rea is a tremendous author and this is an excellent, excellent read. A fantastic book, a fascinating read and I read it in four sittings. Highly recommended.” – Nick Webster, producer and presenter, Fox Football Fone-In

“An uplifting account of friendship, football and overcoming the odds in the face of tragedy. Stephen Rea has scored an impressive winner.” – Derek Rae, senior UEFA Champions League commentator, ESPN

“Rea writes with a quick, easy-to-read prose style and a charming sense of humor… Rea is able to vividly and often hilariously evoke what makes New Orleans a simultaneously beautiful and maddening place to live… While the Katrina parts of the book will likely bring back painful memories for most locals (they did for me), his telling of the events and its affects on New Orleanians is skillful enough that I would recommend it to any non-locals looking to get a grasp on the city and how the storm affected it.” – Fritz Esker, Where Y’At magazine

“A fantastic book… you will shed a tear when you read this… it is a great story.” – Steven Cohen, World Soccer Daily

“The debut book from Northern Ireland-born New Orleans transplant Stephen Rea is a mighty narrative about a small pub team overcoming some serious obstacles… Finn McCool’s Football Club is a testament to how the Beautiful Game survives even the direst of circumstances.” – A Dozen Books Every Football Fan Should Read, Bleacher Report

“I was quickly swept up in his story… Rea’s casual, conversational style is well suited to telling a tale that takes the reader through the eccentricities of life in New Orleans and the curious cast of characters he encounters. An incredible first-person account… that will leave you looking forward to whatever the author chooses to turn his attention to next.” – Pete Maher, Irish Focus

“There are good books about football, and there are good books about life. You can classify Finn McCool’s in either category. But regardless of which category it falls in, it is easily one of the best books I have ever read.” – Brent Atema, Global Football Today

“It’s a rollicking fine book, with the deep sorrow of our city’s loss and the triumphant energy of men at play.” – The Reading Life, WWNO

“This is a fantastic, awesome book and I really can’t praise it enough. I totally recommend it to anyone.” – Evan Garrity, ESPN Radio WSLA

“I read it, discovered how good it is, and but the debut book from Northern Ireland-born New Orleans transplant Stephen Rea—not to be confused with the actor and fellow Belfast native of the same name—is a mighty narrative about a small pub team overcoming some serious obstacles.

After moving to New Orleans, Rea helped form a team with fellow footy-mad locals and expats who inhabited an Irish pub called Finn McCool’s. When Hurricane Katrina hit, many teammates, including the author, were separated by the floodwaters, and the book chronicles how the storm impacted the players and their efforts to reunite the team. Finn McCool’s Football Club is a testament to how the Beautiful Game survives even the direst of circumstances. quickly felt like an idiot for not reading it sooner… It’s funny, frightening, familiar, and foreign, all mixed together… you get a taste of what it was like to live through a natural disaster, the likes of which most of us can barely comprehend. If you play amateur football, it’ll pump you up for your next match and if you don’t, it’ll make you want to start. But in the end, it’ll just make you feel good. I could go on, but there’s really no point. You’re wasting time — read the book.” –

“The book follows the team as they cope with the hurricane and its aftermath, and rejoices in the unlikely return of Rea, the club, its members, the pub, and the city itself… The book is an unlikely success story set in an unlikely city.” – New Orleans Review

“As the best sports writing can be, Finn McCools’s is so much more than a book about just a game … it is in the face of what was surely one of the most difficult experiences imaginable that Rea is able to write so powerfully about the importance of family, friendship and football… With his debut Stephen Rea has written a work of literature well worth reading.” – Patrick Thurston, 90 Minutes magazine

“A witty and intense memoir about a guy in New Orleans who finds a home at a local Irish pub… The cast of characters are his family. When Katrina hits, however, everything changes. The recovery from the storm’s devastation is, ultimately, the crux of the story and the book’s eventual redemptive inspiration. ” – Kicking and Screening

“A post-Katrina comeback tale that will make readers want to drink up at the Mid-City bar.” – Susan Larson, book editor, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Stephen Rea’s gripping tale of how he and his New Orleanian band of futbol player/friends survived Hurricane Katrina and regrouped is a study in tenacity… Sports lovers, particularly those who dig soccer, can find plenty of action within the pages, as well. This is a book for fans of New Orleans, of the universal ball game, of ex-pats and of pubs. Score 10-nil for Rea and the McCools.” – The Irish American Post

“Finn McCool’s Football Club is a must-read for soccer fans. The grit and determination displayed by these lads in the face of disaster was amazing. Their spirit and never-say-die attitude is captivating. When the history of soccer is written in the U.S., I hope the players, management, and fans of the Finn McCool’s club will get proper recognition for the major role they were able to play in promoting ‘the Beautiful Game.’” – Tommy Smyth, “the Auld Onion Bag Man,” ESPN commentator

“This book is hardly just about soccer. It’s about New Orleans through an Irishman’s eyes, an amalgamation of stories and experiences.” – Angus Lind, columnist, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Finn McCool’s Football Club accomplishes what all good books should: It’s about much more than simply what you get on the surface.  Fans of the sport may pick up the book under the supposition that it’ll be about the game that they love… but they’ll quickly find that the book is about much more than that… Rea has continued to do his part in the city’s rebirth, and if there’s any justice in the world, the book’s extended release will make further known the story of what New Orleans and its citizens were, are and will continue to be.” – Matthew Semisch, 9/10 review, Last Minute, Second Leg

“Rea’s book grabbed me from the opening paragraph, with its first-hand accounts of surviving Hurricane Katrina and its terrible aftermath… Although Rea’s book has football as a continuing thread, it’s not a football book. Although Hurricane Katrina is a strong player, Rea’s book is also not another depressing “I survived the Mother-of-all-Hurricanes” book. It is a book about friends and friendships new, old, and undiscovered. And it’s about what is important in life. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as will you.” – Laurel Meadows, Union Jack newspaper

“Great story about real characters bonded by a passion for football and life.” – Stephen Nicol, two-time MLS All-Stars Coach, Head Coach, New England Revolution

“Rea… shares footballers’ stories with realistic details and colorful quotes… More to the point, Rea holds up Finn’s as a model of post-Katrina community spirit.” – Leigh Ann Stuart, New Orleans Magazine

“A classic Irish story… Author Stephen Rea has scored a major hit with this book… A must-read book.” – Mark Stokes, The Irish Emigrant

“New Orleans is not a place you immediately associate with the beautiful game, nevertheless, the Big Easy is responsible for one of the best books about soccer ever to emerge from this side of the pond… Rea’s account of his experiences forming a pub team and living through Hurricane Katrina with his teammates is a must read for all soccer fans. Anyone who has ran away to America and joined a pub football team will identify with the humor and passion of this incredible story” – David Witchard, First Touch Magazine

“Europeans by birth, they came together only to be broke apart by Hurricane Katrina. A memoir of brotherhood, “Finn McCool’s Football Club” is a fine read, sure to inspire and push readers to value their friendships.” – Midwest Book Review

“Stephen Rea uses one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history as the backdrop for a love story – not your average love story either, as it’s also the love of a city, the ties that bind friends, and the passion for a sport. Soccer brings fans from around the globe together and that has never been proven more true than in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rea’s book brings one of the biggest stories of the century down to a touching, emotional, personal level in a solid debut effort.” – Phil Schoen, GolTV commentator

“The tale of their quest for football glory and the transplantation of neighborhood football clubs from across the pond has been perfectly told in a fine book written by Irish New Orleanian Stephen Rea… Rea, from Belfast, brings to the table an Irish lyricism, intricate wordplay, occasional gravitas and excellent humor, ultimately producing an extremely readable book that is a snapshot of our city’s times.” – Paul Wegmann, New Orleans Living magazine

“An outstanding read that I finished in two days. Yes, it’s about soccer and a magical Irish pub in New Orleans that an ecclectic assortment of ex-pats and fringe characters call home. But don’t let these details fool you – this is a deeply American story about starting life anew, about being a stranger in a strange land, and the meaning of friendship and community as the world turns upside down. Unforgettable.” – Alex White,

“Absolutely fascinating even if a.) you have never been to N’Orleans, b.) you do not understand soccer in the least, or c.) the edgy humor-and-bonding of the male of our species is beyond you… The building of their team and the forging of its spirit during and after that hurricane is gritty and great, an adventure on the determined wild side. The stories from the hurricane are so vivid and peopled that they give you the best on-the-ground look I have hit ’til yet… Read it. Take your time. The book – and the team – deserve it.” – Marilis Hornidge, The Lincoln County News

“I’d like to wholeheartedly recommend checking out Stephen Rea’s Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead. Even if soccer and hurricanes aren’t your thing you’re still likely to enjoy the hell out of this book because Rea has a great story to tell.” – Jack Kogod, Kissing Suzy Kolber blog

“Given the growing number of books about American soccer fans trapped in a country that doesn’t value or even understand their sport, Rea’s take… adds an enjoyably different perspective. Rea is an agreeable chronicler, and his blend of comedy, tragedy, and social observation moves briskly… Rea’s thoughts on the pains and pleasures of globalism’s diaspora, and the horrors of Katrina and its aftermath, make worthwhile reading.” – Keir Graff, Booklist Online

“Having read Finn McCool’s, I knew it would appeal to my audience. The reaction I’ve received is unanimously positive.” – Richard Farley, World Soccer Reader

“This captivating tale of the unusual pub soccer team amidst the horrors of Katrina provides both a humorous and heart-wrenching memoir.” – Cheré Coen, Lafayette (LA) Daily Advertiser


“A powerful and often haunting account, which shows how, in the wake of disaster, the friendships formed by football were all that some survivors had left.” – Jon Spurling, 4-star review, FourFourTwo magazine

“Quite brilliant… heart-warming and fantastically funny.” – Football Punk magazine

“I heartily recommend it. It’s a brilliant, brilliant read.” – John Toal, Saturday Magazine, BBC Radio

“Rea’s writing style is compelling, humorous and engaging and aside from the fact the book is angled around a great climatic event, the humdrum elements are immensely enjoyable too. It is fascinating… It also works as a kind of travelogue offering a unique insight to an American city that really is very different to all others. You can’t help but feel that you’d like to go there and experience for yourself.” – Solihull Times

“It is ultimately a story of triumphing against adversity… It offers an amazing insight… There’s also the recounting of a pretty amazing rescue.” – Sutton Coldfield News

“Finn McCool’s Football Club is not just about football. A skillful blend of comedy, tragedy and the international camaraderie of sport.” – Laure James, NI Football

“A very special book.” – Frank Mitchell, U105 Radio

“Fascinating… beautifully and sensitively written by Stephen Rea… There is a lot of humour, pathos and unbearable tension as Stephen paints a moving and inspiring picture of how the team was rebuilt against the background of horrific hurricane scenes.” – Norman Giller, Sports Journalists’ Association News

“A book on the ups and downs of this American Irish bar’s soccer team might not sound like compulsive reading. But when the bar in question is based in New Orleans and the adventures of its football team are set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina the whole thing takes on a different dimension… Enthralling… an excellent book.” – The Harp magazine

“The subtitle of Belfast man Rea’s brilliant book gives you some idea of what to expect… Rea’s book is a tribute to the unifying power of sport and friendship. In a word: Inspirational.” – William Scholes, The Irish News

“Invest a couple of quid and a few days in reading it and you’ll be repaid many times over by an intriguing cast of characters and a succession of awful, awesome events, intelligently retold in terms that veer from funny to sentimental to heartbreaking.” – Dave Bowler, Dave Bowler Column

“Tugging at the core of the book is a sense of humanity and friendship that ultimately binds each of the author’s relationships with the bizarre characters that he meets along a journey that takes plenty of entertaining twists and insightful turns. With an emotive flow cascading through its pages, this is a story that will stay with you long after it has started to gather dust on the bookshelf. It is a rewarding read and one that will help to alter your perspective on adapting to the unexpected challenges that life throws at you… A very enjoyable read.” – Gareth Maher,

“An outsider’s view of Katrina and the city it destroyed, seen through the prism of a pub football team, a surely unique perspective. Though Katrina provides a dramatic backdrop, this is a humorous book about an Irishman trying to find his place in a foreign country and sharing his passion for football.” – Shirley Kelly, Books Ireland

You can read the full Times-Picayune article by Angus Lind here: and Paul Wegmann’s full review in New Orleans Living here: