28 Nov 2021

Kildare man's debut named by The Guardian as one of the best sports books of the year

Clane's Robbie Dunne immersed himself in enigmatic Madrid club

Kildare man's debut named by The Guardian as one of the best sports books of the year

Kildare man's debut named by The Guardian as one of the best sports books of the year

A Kildare man in Madrid has seen his debut book hit the shelves this year, and last week it received high praise from The Guardian, a newspaper widely considered a bastion of quality and objectivity.

Whether it's there lists of musicians to watch or their book reviews, The Guardian is a respected barometer worldwide, making their mention of Clane man Robbie Dunne's new book all the more impressive. 

His book, which is an exploration of the social fabric of Rayo Vallecano, a lowly club founded in 1924 in the shadow of the monstrous Real Madrid in the Spanish capital, has received widespread acclaim since its release in October. 

'Working Class Heroes: The Story of Rayo Vallecano, Madrid's Forgotten Club,' delves into the inner workings of a club with a small but resolute following and a story that spans social justice, politics and of course, football. 

Robbie Dunne is a freelance journalist living in Madrid with his long-term Spanish girlfriend, and a one-time regular for the Clane GAA footballers at home. He was born and bred in Clane, but has spent time living in the US in recent years. 

He returned to college to study journalism a number of years ago and graduated with a DCU degree in Media Production Management in 2016. 

Robbie made the move to Madrid and set about finding employment over there, primarily writing about a league he loved, and a club he describes as 'Madrid's forgotten team.'

He has been asked many times in the months since finishing the book, 'why Rayo Vallecano,' a team that has teetered on the precipice of the Spanish game, rocking back and forth between the divisions over many years of fleeting highs and hard times. 

"I heard somewhere that if you want to write a book, go into a bookshop, look for the book that you want to read that isn't there, and then go and write it," he told Spanish media. 

In truth, Robbie was fascinated by the small-time, the extraordinary in the mundane that a club like Rayo gives to its fans and the social structure of its pocket of a major city.

He wanted to examine this team that once rallied together to re-home an 86-year-old homeless woman, an outfit that seems inextricably concerned with class and social issues. 

VIDEO: Robbie Dunne being interviewed about his book, 'Working Class Heroes.'

In their list of the best books on sport in 2017, the Guardian say Robbie's offering "captures the singularity of the determinedly local, blue-collar, radical Madrid club Rayo Vallecano, providing a view of Spanish football beyond the slavish preoccupation of most media with Real Madrid and Barcelona."

Robbie's book, 'Working Class Heroes - The Story of Rayo Vallecano' is available to buy now here.

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