Thursday, February 26, 2009

its criminal.

Crime-related football fiction is a world unto itself. I nearly said underworld. It started a way back in the day, we're talking the 1920s and 30s here. Sydney Horler's Tiger Standish series probably aren't strictly crime but they are crime-related and more importantly, we here at the simplest game think they're great.

Tiger was a secret service agent who banged the goals away on the weekend and banged the bad guys away during the week. Barring hiccups, replays and midweek European ties obviously. Mind you, you'd have to presume the Euro ties would've been great cover for catching up with the international bad guys.

Plenty of thrills, the review in the Evening News said at the time. His real name was the Honourable Timothy Overbury Standish. He's the son of the Earl of Quorn, Master of the Quorn Hunt (that'd have to be some kind of vegetarian picnic), a better than bond style secret service agent and the finest centre forward in the land. What a Guy! He was so inspirational, Benny, his butler, followed him through four years of war in Flanders and then played on the left wing for his team - it's absolutely champion stuff.
Here's a wee sample I found elsewhere...
A pipe, a dog and a golf club : if you want to win the heart of a man, give him one of these. And when I say a man, I mean a MAN - not one of these emasculated cigarette smokers.

My other favourites of the day are Leonard Gribble's The Arsenal Stadium Mysteries (1939 and 1950). There were two of them - he pushed the boat out coming up with a name for the sequel. It was called The Replay. They were serialised in the papers. Gribble was allowed unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the Arsenal stadium and team. He cut a deal with the Chairman of the club and included actual players and their names in the mysteries - like they were playing themselves in a movie. Imagine getting a deal like that now. He also wrote They Kidnapped Stanley Mathews which was about, you guessed it, the kidnap of a famous player. Loads of fun.

There's also Gerald Verner's Football Pools Murder (1939). I've not been able to learn anything about it so far - apart from what the title tells you. John Creasey's Inspector West Kicks Off (1949), is a murder mystery which leads Inspector West on a trail from the body discovered at a football match, through the echelons of big club football and into the world of organised crime. The other book I'd love to learn more about is Cup Final Murder by Brendan Newman (1950).

Next week I'll have a look at the comtemporary offerings in the crime-related football fiction movement. In the meantime if anyone could tell me more, or at least anything, about these books I'd sure appreciate it.

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