Jun 8, 2022
The history of football memorabilia such as books is not a glorious one. This could be because the sport simply doesn’t lend itself to fiction; or perhaps because nobody who’s any good at writing fiction has ever written much about football.
Souvenirs like books with a football theme first began to appear shortly after the First World War. These were aimed mainly at young boys and were often set in glowering public schools. As far as adult literature is concerned, only Arnold Bennett and J.B. Priestly of established novelists dipped into the football world for material. In his novel The Card Bennett observed that football had superseded all other forms of recreation in the potteries region, particularly for the fanatical supporters of Knype (Stoke City) and Bursley codigo de bonus bet365 (Port Vale). Leonard Gribble’s The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939), a crime novel in a famous footballing setting, was made into a film that is still occasionally televised on dark Tuesday afternoons. After the Second World War football stories increasingly formulaic tales of star strikers and young hopefuls – were churned out by many of the new children’s comics, with some holding grate value in football memorabilia circles. Some were instrumental in giving the creative minds behind many football programmes the artistic touch to their covers.
In his 1968 novel A Kestrel For A Knave, later filmed as Kes, Barry Hines created a brilliant and enduring cameo of a school games lesson, which sees an overly competitive games teacher taking on the role of Bobby Charlton in an under-14s kick-about. There was more football in Hines’s earlier novel The Blinder, with its central character a precocious young striker, roustabout and Angry Young Man. The authenticity of the football scenes can be partly attributed to Hines’s youthful appearance in the Burnley ‘A’ team.
In the late 1980s authors such as Julian Barnes and Martin Amis started dropping the old football passage into their work. Amis’s rendering of fans’ speech can be deemed either ‘stylized’ or ‘clumsy’, depending on your mood, but it still led away from the sex-and-soap stories that predominated in the early 1970s and 1980s – Jimmy Greaves being the co-writer of such series with the Jackie Groves novels of 1979 – 81.
Fiction based on hooliganism began to proliferate in the 1990s, with the most famous of this genre arguably John King’s trilogy The Football Factory, Headhunters and England Away. Films like these maybe not in the mainstream as far as collectables or memorabilia are concerned, however, these are popular films amongst the majority of fans up and down the country and in time I’m sure several will hold some value. The Football Factory, which became a cult novel and film, is graced with a first line that Thomas Hardy couldn’t have come up with in a hundred years: ‘Coventry are fuck all.’
Other footballing literary works include J.L. Carr’s How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, a par