Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Strangers in a stranger land…

I’ve had to do a couple of readings recently and I’ve got a couple more coming. The thought of them is not any more alarming than actually doing a reading. It’s mortifying to be in front of a crowd reading out loud something you’ve written. What if they think its shit? What if they don’t like football? – in Australian literary circles there’s a fair chance that might happen or worse still, what if they can’t understand the thick Scottish Brogue? For me, in Brisbane, this is as close to dead cert territory I can get without getting electrocuted on the wire.

As a football fan and a football fiction enthusiast (read geek), I feel like a stranger in a stranger land. Like I’m looking for golden pins in a field of straw. The only Australian football fiction I’ve found, by Cath Crowley (Gracie Faltrain) and Neil Montagnana-Wallace (Megs), are both aimed at young adult fiction reading audiences. Australian Sports Commission and Football Federation of Australia figures point to the game’s popularity among young adults and children so it goes without saying that’s where the lion’s share of native football fiction should be aimed.

But I’ve not found any Australian based football fiction aimed at older audiences, so I’m asking for your help. Can you tell me if you know any?

See, I naively thought, “there’s a hole there”. And I thought,“I’ll fill that”. So I did. I wrote a book and thought, “Right, I’ve filled it”. The game of football in this country (a place where the uninitiated steadfastly call it feckin’ soccer) will be even more popular as a result of my work. But we all know that’s a long free kick from deep in your own half away from the truth. I kinda knew that before I started. Now I don’t say this because my work is unpublished, (I’m confident it’ll find a home one day). I say it because even if it was, I’m not sure I’d have filled the hole. Isn’t there just too much drama in the real thing without reading made up stuff about it?

The season, A-League version 4.0, beckons so you can make your own decisions. Before you do, please consider the following…

The A-League teams are improving beyond all expectation. Well enough, in fact, to attract stars from overseas. Queensland Roar, having already found a home for Craig Moore - albeit 20 minutes before his retirement from international football - have signed an indubitably hefty Charlie Miller. Moore’s former Rangers teammate, stopping only to empty kitchen cupboards all over b-side europe, has made his way to Brisbane. Hopefully his diet will fair better with all the fresh fruit and sea food here. Don’t worry Charlie you can still get a fish supper. They aren’t as good but you can get one. The best part is he looks like their best player.

Then there’s the Central Coast Mariners controversial Mark Bosnich.
In December 1995 the way clubs sign players changed significantly, thanks to a Belgian bloke called Bosman, allowed players to become their own Masters. Kind of like subcontracting tradesmen with the literal and figurative ball at their feet.
The Bosnich ruling is something else altogether. Signing a Bosnich is the equivalent of having a pinless grenade taped to your chest. While you can hold the grenade parts together with one hand, your other is holding a rope tied to a safety rail precariously floating off the side of a 80 story skyscraper. Either way it goes, it’s trouble. Sure, from a distance it looks spectacular. The close proximity truth is nobody knows what’s going to happen, except that, whether it’s the window cleaners or the street sweepers, someone’s cleaning up a mess. And that, as we all know, makes it worth watching.

I say good luck to the high-steppin, high flyin, crazy, crazy bastard. I hope he’s settled down. He is, after all, the lesson that one act of stupidity is not the unmaking of a man, unless, of course, it’s a nazi salute to a stadium full of Tottenham Hotspur fans. Even though I’m confident I’ve never done anything that stupid, I feel like I can kind of relate. Playing to the crowd, the literary or the football, can be an awesome responsibility. And there are clearly some stories you just can’t write, whether you read them out or not. I have to say though when the real-life stuff is that scary, I think I prefer the fiction.

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