|"Tough, tender, lyrical" Oh, yes.|
"Ignore the terrible title pun on John Donne’s famous line and the equally clumsy pun on an EM Forster title in the story Where Mothers Cease To Tread. This is a cracker of a book. Tough, tender, colloquial, lyrical.
"Scottish ‘fitball’ may be a one horse canter this season, but this collection of footie and post-footie tales shows that there is life, albeit fictional life, in the North of the border game. At least there is in the opening Kes meets Walter Mitty story about a young ‘Sassenach boy’ who in 1974 stuns a group of Scottish boys by making a brilliant save during a game on the village green.
"We all brought off one save like that in our lives, and the residuary pleasure lives on after reading this. Just as the torment of missing ‘the mother of all misses’ in the Cup Final haunts Greg Furt-Trevis, especially as he spends his every day looking obsessively at the video of the match over and over again in a compelling tale complete with makey-up John Motson commentary.
"Ian Plenderleith, who has written on UK and continental football for WSC and Total Football, knows the game and writes with empathetic candour about the anti-heroes of the bootiful game: the loser fans, the over-the-hill players, a dipsomaniacal mascot (Topsy the Toucan, East Park Academy FC), a footie-distracted political revolutionary, Third Division mediocrities Hansford Town, and Carston Hicks, who has to play in a mickey mouse cup final on the day his elderly mother dies.
"Apart from 12 soccer tales there are 10 non-footie ones, including some brutally surreal stories set in Germany and central Europe. An impressive debut."
This will hopefully boost sales in Ireland, which according to my latest depressing royalty statement totalled a massive 67 copies up until the end of 2003. Quite why it was reviewed eight months after it came out I've no idea, because I've yet to fully comprehend the foibles and vicissitudes of the publishing world. Maybe it just took the Orion publicity department that long to post it overseas.