WRITING ABOUT FOOTBALL
For Christmas in 1962, my elder sister gave me “The Footballer’s Companion”, a collection of good writing about the game, or as the editor of the collection, Brian Glanville puts it, its “literature”. Although Glanville was tired of hearing that football is a game without such a literature, nevertheless in the space of one year putting the Companion together, he learned how rich it really was.
The book is a joy; I still pull it down from my shelf to read about great games, great players, to remind myself that literary figures—Albert Camus, Arnold Bennett, Harold Pinter—included the game in their fiction. Literature deals with tragedy more than joy, and I am still moved by H. E. Bates’s account of the Manchester United disaster in an air crash in 1958. Poets too—Danny Abse, Henri de Montherlant—have put their love of the game onto paper.