Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

The Beautiful Game

Huddersfield_Town_1922

A lot of talk about football on Twitter tonight – and surfing around I found this wonderful snatch of prose from JB Priestley, in his 1929 novel The Good Companions, via Steve J’s blog Educated Left Foot in 2008.

For those who don’t know Bruddersford United represent the archetypal heavy woollen district football team – so are probably Bradford City, Park Avenue, Huddersfield, Leeds and Halifax all rolled into one.

Here it is

“To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. For a shilling the Bruddersford United AFC offered you Conflict and Art; it turned you into a critic, happy in your judgement of fine points, ready in a second to estimate the worth of a well-judged pass, a run down the touch line, a lightning shot, a clearance kick by back or goalkeeper; it turned you into a partisan, holding your breath when the ball came sailing into your own goalmouth, ecstatic when your forwards raced away towards the opposite goal, elated, downcast, bitter, triumphant by turn at the fortunes of your side, watching a ball shape Iliads and Odysseys for you; and what is more, it turned you into a member of a new community, all brothers together for an hour and a half, for not only had you escaped from the clanking machinery of this lesser life, from work, wages, rent, doles, sick pay, insurance cards, nagging wives, ailing children, bad bosses, idle workmen, but you had escaped with most of your neighbours, with half the town, and there you were cheering together, thumping one another on the shoulders, swopping judgements like lords of the earth, having pushed your way through a turnstile into another and altogether more splendid kind of life, hurtling with Conflict and yet passionate and beautiful in its Art. Moreover it offered you more than a shilling’s worth of material for talk during the rest of the week. A man who had missed the last home match of “t’United” had to enter social life on a tiptoe in Bruddersford.”

Not much you can say after that !

Oh, Huddersfield beat Brighton 7-1 tonight by the way. (in case you missed it !)

August 18, 2009 - Posted by | Football, idle banter | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. i love that book. there are so many great bits, but that ‘what is it? it’s a sea of caps’ (to brutally paraphrase) scene as the men process to the match right at the beginning is fantastic.

    and then there is the headmaster who says ‘chumha, chumha, chumha’ all the time. as so many head teachers still cannot help but do.

    it’s a lovely book. i think priestley is an underestimated writer. suffers in the critical imagination from being too accessible and too popular.

    great stuff. thanks for reminding me, just as i’d finished watching mean streets. (scorcese such a contrast to priestley’s so unfashionably romantic optimism).

    Comment by sion simon | August 19, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for your comments. My house at school was named Priestley – I felt the name was deliberately ambiguous since Joseph Priestley was also local man. I don’t think they had so much as a single one of his (J.B’s) books in the library.

      I must say that, in reference to those people who think that blogging and tweeting is just an inane waste of time – here I am at 1.00 in the morning discussing English Literature, Football and Martin Scorcese with a Parliamentary Under-secretary of State. If that’s not accessible government then I don’t know what is. Thank you once again !

      Comment by northernheckler | August 19, 2009 | Reply


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