Workshop, 10th July 2018

One final push and we can be done with football for at least a month, until the new season starts.  But before then, let us peek into the Archive for another match report from Walpole Park, this time from 1966.  Teddy ‘trout-man’ Hughes keeps the goal safe, while Johnny Betjeman and Wystey Auden stand around in front of it in harrumphing protest, but on the team sheet are down as defenders.  Phil Larkin proves to be surprisingly nimble up the right wing (never the left wing), though doubtless the bicycles helps, while young Seamus ‘Jimmy’ Heaney is a dynamo in midfield, just waiting for his opportunity to break out and come to our notice.  Stevie ‘Stephanie’ Smith leads the attack, relying heavily on the good work of Lizzy Jennings just ahead, who cuts through the opposition before releasing Stevie to slip in a lethal shot under the radar.

So, half-time, and a chance to catch up with this week’s workshop – a smaller affair on a hot summer’s evening.  John Hurley has been people watching in Covent Garden, but who’s watching him ?  Alan Chambers has been spinning a silver yarn for an anniversary, and Anne Furneaux has been writing up her bombing raid for dispatches.  Nick Barth has been trying out his name in different accents, and Martin Choules has been checking some maths and found things don’t quite add up.

So, who were these all-stars playing ?  A team of novelists had been pulled together by Johnny ‘Bilbo’ Tolkien, with what on paper should have been a classic line-up of young Jim Ballard in goal, Les Thomas and Ian ‘my word is my bond’ Fleming shoring up defence, Aggie Christie twisting and turning her way through midfield, Jack Fowles confusing everyone with his antics on the wing and Alli ‘not the spy’ Maclean bringing his big guns to the attack.  These posy poets were theirs for the taking…

Except, when referee Ludo Kennedy blew kick-off, the novelists found their heavyweight style too ponderous, while the coupleteers could change direction on a volta.  As the home side saw their pithy lines fire true, the need for the visitors to spend whole chapters making their point gave the defence plenty of time to dispossess them.  Alas, Aggie was hopeless as a sweeper, refusing to even touch the ball unless to furthered her plot, and poor JB spend all afternoon retrieving free-wheeling verses from the back of his net.  If only they could have had one of those short-sentence Yanks like the Kurt ‘short-track-good’ Vonnegut on the bench…

Strangely, the final score is not recorded, possibly because Ludo lost count, but there was no doubt who the crowd were supporting – after an awkward attempt at mass-chanting the opening chapter of This Sporting Life, they found they much preferred a verse of ‘fatty passed to skinny / skinny passed it back / fatty took a rotten shot / and left the goalie flat’.

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