Talking about other people's football fiction is one thing. I thought I'd put a wee bit of my own on the blog to eh, ye know, level the playing field (...ouch). I wrote it last year (it was in a draft of Some Tartan Hyde, a novel I'm still looking to get published). It will also provide the basis for a short story I'm working on. It's the view from the pitch and it's very rarely used in football fiction, especially when it's about very ordinary football.
Their man in the centre of the park is strutting his stuff. He has a lovely touch on the ball; he’s pointing at his teammates and spraying passes about. Fancies himself as a midfield dynamo. He won’t last; he can’t. Not at this pace. And a couple of the boys, myself included, have given him a good dunt already, so he won’t.
One of their defenders puts a tidy pass to his feet. Under control, he’s trapped it and stroked it like it was his only love. Inch perfect, their forward, the boy I’ve been chasing after, steady's himself before he lays out the return pass. The ball completes the perfect isosceles triangle. The dynamo zips into the space and collects the ball like he’s been transported Star Trek style from deep in his own half. Zooming towards me, his only mistake so far is that he’s not looked up enough, not looked directly in front of him. Too busy looking to play it to someone else. He sways with the ball at his toes, left then right, then breaks left when he’s still looking right. Selling Mulheart the dummy, he skips out from under the untimely lunge. With Mulheart’s big body prostrate, the dynamo stops, picks his direction with a knitted brow and zooms off again. In a couple of short bursts, he’s dancing on the edge of our goal mouth to avoid the puffing, wheezing, clumsy tackles littering his feet and battering his ankles, he breathes in and pulls back to shoot. That’s when I step in.
I’m lucky. His view is all goal, until I fall into the picture. It isn’t exactly thief in the night stuff. Ordinarily he would have skipped away from me same as he’s done to everybody else. Sensing the danger of my momentum from the periphery, he’s faked the shot and tried to draw the ball back. Give himself some space. I should’ve blown past him. Being so slow, I catch him off guard. By accident. Trailing his foot to drop another feint and turn past me has left him exposed, so when I mis-time my challenge and slide in, it looks like I’ve anticipated it. It’s an exceptional tackle, even better if I’d meant it. The ball momentarily trapped between us, pops up in front of me. Where he couldn’t keep his feet, I’m on mine, the ball at my toes, before I’ve even stopped sliding.
I use the momentum to carry me round his mate, who had been following in, and do a bit of zooming myself. The liberation and freedom at having won the ball inspires a trip to the furthest reaches of my own half. I keep motoring into theirs. I’ll never score. I’m a defender. I clear them out and stop others coming at us. It kind of feels unnatural to be this far forward. I push the ball ahead, lining it up for an unstoppable shot but, touch like an elephant; I’ve knocked it too far. Where I should have been pulling the trigger and pinging it, I take an over-stretched step and fluff the shot. Its wayward trajectory turns it into a chip into the box. Incredibly, Keef catches it crisply on his right foot and the volley smashes into their net. The lads, to a man, congratulate me on the tackle in our box and my clever, selfless touch to Keef. We’re one nothing up in a very tight game.
Right, any questions, comments or feedback would be gratefully accepted and considered. Even if you don't think I'll like them I'm still interested to hear them. Thanks for reading it.