Right in the middle of writing another book review I remembered that I’m supposed to be looking at this for my Pee Haitch Dee where I'm going to be looking at mapping football fiction. Ye know carving out the corners of my own shadows and an area of expertise, a wee niche if ye like, so if nothing else, the peeps at Uni think I know what I’m talking about. Regular readers of this wee bubble in the bath full of washing liquid world that is blogger may already have worked out the ruse.
Okay seriously, this is where thesimplestgame is up to.
As far as I can tell and this is absolutely disputable, there are maybe 60 -70 books which could be classed as football fiction. I reckon that’s about three good shelves worth in my artistic hovel.
The young adult fiction in Gracie, Megs, Jasper and a couple of other very similar examples, its probably the only place in the book world where the concentration is so great. Almost a whole shelf worth by the time you tie in the sequels.
There’s the Hoolie lit with the likes of your John King trilogy, the largest part of the Dougie Brimson collection (see Dougie's own site)) and more recent discoveries such as Away Days by Kevin Sampson giving fans with a taste for football related pugilism something to read. It's a section which probably takes up about the next most space. It's an area I’m going to revisit soon.
There are, relatively speaking, loads of good short story collections from Nicholas Royle’s A Book of Two Halves, For Whom the Ball Rolls by Ian Plenderleith and my personal favourite The Hope that Kills Us edited by Adrian Searle are all good examples.
There’s lipstick football fiction with the likes of Karren Brady and Siobhan Curham specialising in the WAGS – wives and girlfriends – view of the game.
In Dominic Holland and Des Dillon’s books The Ripple Effect and ...The Busby Babes respectively, if not respectably, there’s the tales of teams saved from extinction by hair brained schemes and ghosts of football past.
There are crossovers too. In Pitch Black there’s dark emotive lad lit. and other male masculinity crises in the likes of The Man Who Hated Football by Will Buckley. In Sexy Football there’s some soft porn and there's even some detective stuff in the Montalban book Offside.
And of course there’s The Damned United, the literary end of the football fiction shelf, while fan fiction like that of Roddy Doyle in The Van and other places, Jonathon Tulloch's The Season Ticket and at a non-fcition stretch Hornby's Fever Pitch all mingle in the stand.
I’ve to review some of these yet and there’s a few more I know of that I aim to acquire in the coming months.
If this article felt like one of those episodes in a sitcom where they sit on the couch and remember all the funny stuff that happened to them over the years (usually for lack of a script), that’s because it was. Mind you, this wasn’t about saving myself anything, it was about keeping track. There’s nothing worse than when you stop to watch a game in the park and it’s half way through and you don’t know what the score is. Well now you do. Football fiction eh? There’s a bit more to it than I expected.