Monday, 14 June 2010

Penalty


I did wonder about making this blog a football free zone for the duration of the World Cup. The hype about the tournament is predictably excessive, and a low point was reached on Saturday, I thought, when both Sky News and BBC News led with the ‘breaking news’ that the England team’s coach had arrived at the stadium before the match. As my wife wearily pointed out, it would have been more newsworthy if they’d decided not to turn up (and poor Rob Green probably wishes he hadn’t...)

However, the fact is that I grew up in a football household, and although I was a hopeless player, I’m still very keen on the game – my Dad’s life revolved around it, and as a result, so did mine and my mother’s. One book I am truly proud of is the 400 page history of the local club, Northwich Victoria, that he wrote over the last ten years of his life. Happily, it was published to considerable acclaim shortly before he died, and that gave him enormous, and well deserved, satisfaction. Quite an achievement for a man who left school at the age of 14.

After he died, I wrote a short story in his memory which has been published a couple of times. It was called ‘Penalty’, and the story centres around an old football ground, not dissimilar from the Drill Field in Northwich, which my father discovered was the oldest ground on which senior football had been played continuously, anywhere in the world. Football is a sport replete in tradition, and the story draws on the history of the game. I think it is sad that, a few years ago, the Drill Field was sold off and houses were built upon it. A piece of sporting heritage, lost forever.

Football has featured in some of my other stories, notably a Harry Devlin mystery called ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which involved dark doings in the Liverpool football world. Several crime novels have had football themes or elements, but not many strike me as truly satisfactory. My first crime novel, Dead Shot, was no masterpiece either, and I was sensible enough never to try to get it published. I’m not sure if anyone has produced a mystery with a World Cup setting. If not, it may just be that the current tournament will inspire someone to write one...

15 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I think most of us are inspired in our writing by things that happen in our lives. I know that's true of me. I've not read Penalty,, but now you've got me interested in it..

Michael Walters said...

Dan Kavanagh's 'Putting the Boot In' has some weaknesses as a crime novel, but is very good (and very funny) on the trials and tribulations of lower league football. I'm surprised how pertinent some of its observations remain in today's credit-crunched world!

Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin,

Your father was Ken Edwards, Director and later President of Northwich Vics, wasn’t he? What a great achievement, to have written the history of one of the world’s oldest football clubs. As you say, the demolition of the Drill Field eight years ago was a sad loss to sporting heritage.

Must confess that until recent years the game rather left me cold – in fact, as a 13 year old schoolboy, I started an anti-football club… didn’t get many members, though! Cross-country running was more my thing as it provided excellent opportunities for mischief with my mates! Nowadays I enjoy the World Cup though I wouldn’t go quite so far as driving around with flags flapping at my windows!

I’d like to read ‘Penalty’ if I can find it. Is it in your collection ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

Regards, Paul

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

The World Cup has had BIG buzz this year for it to enter my consciousness. :)

Eric Mayer said...

I admit I know virtually nothing about what in the US we refer to as soccer, except the cheer for Newcastle (via Mary) which, however, is in Geordie which I would have no chance of rendering into actual written English. However, I have the same fascination with baseball wich has a long tradition and which I played, insessantly but ineptly, as a kid.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments.
Michael, yes, I've read Putting the Boot In, and found it funny, if not a great crime novel.
Paul, yes, my Dad was Ken. And the story is indeed in Where do you find your ideas?

Len Tyler said...

Not about the World Cup, or even a book for that matter, but the 1939 film "The Arsenal Stadium Mystery" was a classic combining football and murder. (Sorry - just a plug for my own local team, really!)

Bill Carlin said...

Ah, the beautiful game! Like so many other Scots I'm envious that England have made it to South Africa. I wish the team well.

Pele was credited with "The World Cup Murder" published by No Exit Press back in1990. It's been a permanent fixture in my to- be- read pile since then. I've made several false starts but may not be missing much if the link below is to be believed.

http://bishsbeat.blogspot.com/2010/06/forgotten-books-world-cup-murder.html

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Len - I rather enjoyed that film, though I haven't read the book on which it's based. Incidentally, I have an unrelated question for you and will send you an email.

Martin Edwards said...

Greetings, Bill. Many thanks for the link to that very enjoyable review.

Juxtabook said...

What a lovely story about your Dad. I love the early history of football - pre WWI. I think a historical-football setting would make a great book. If someone would now just write it please??

bish8 said...

Thanks for checking in over at Bish's Beat. I will have to check out "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Richard Hoyt, who received some acclaim for his private eye novels, also wrote a soccer novel, Red Card, which I'm thinking of covering in this week's Forgotten Books post.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Juztabook. I agree! The history of football is full of social interest.

Hi Bish - look forward to hearing about Red Card!

Len Tyler said...

Martin - re Arsenal Stadium Mystery - though I know the film, I hadn't come across the book. Checking, I see that it has recently been republished - see http://www.gcrbooks.co.uk/page_1258556.html if anyone is interested.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Len!