Sunday, 3 April 2016

How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the FA Cup. J L Carr

You don't need to love football in order to enjoy this little book.  I see that Penguin are re-issuing it this Spring, and I hope that it will find some fans.  Yes, it's about football - well, sort of.  So let's just  have a look at the premise.  A small village team of mostly amateurs beat Glasgow Rangers and win the FA cup.  Is it true?  Well, it could be, but records seem to be missing.....  The teller of the tale, a young man who writes the rhymes for birthday cards, becomes the secretary of the club, and so the recorder of meetings where decisions are taken, the team is chosen, and the notetaker of all the Chairman's decisions and asides. The team is built around a set of "postulations".. from Doctor Kossuth, a Hungarian schoolteacher residing in the village, who takes the time to observe football games and comes back to the team with his thoughts on which to build the team.

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At just 140 pages, I laughed to myself throughout.  Improbable characters are somehow very familiar. Apart from Doctor Kossuth, you'll meet the Chairman of the team (and chair of every committee in the village as well as a successful beet farmer) Mr Fangfoss;  Alex Slingsby (short career professional footballer and team captain, and various other colourful characters.

J L Carr who died in 1994, is more famous for another short book, A month in the Country.  He  was a schoolteacher for many years, and produced a lot of short novels.  The style is 1920s, rather than 1970s when this was first published and you might like a dictionary for a few words no longer in common usage.  But it doesn't matter.  If you are outside the UK and an anglophile, you might just enjoy this! (and you don't need to know the rules of football either).  If you like football at all, you might enjoy it; if you want to be amused, you might enjoy it.  You just might enjoy it and have a few quiet chuckles to yourself just because you came across it.