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The Far Corner, by Harry Pearson

Posted on August 22, 2011 by samh

The Far Corner: A Mazy Dribble Through North-East Football, by Harry Pearson (1994)

The telling words on the front of the 1997 edition of The Far Corner (shown in picture) say: “Forget Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, this is the football book of the new age”.

Bearing in mind that Fever Pitch was published just two years before The Far Corner, it is clear to see that new ages come and go with increasing rapidity these days, not least in football literature. This tale of north-east football from the grass roots to the glamour of the Premiership brilliantly satirises the glut of “devoted fan” books that inevitably followed Hornby’s book.

The Far Corner is a joy from beginning to end, riotously parodying both the football book and the factual book. The ‘index’ has such entries as “Beardsley, Peter – Elvis-like wiggling of” and “Carter, Raich – immaculate cheekbones of” and the preface about the author reads: “He translated the poetry of Enoch Powell into Ancient Greek at the age of eight”.

Pearson’s style sparkles; simile after simile links to football in some way. For example: “Andy and I were sitting in a cafe in Durham drinking cappuccino that was about as strong as a Glenn Hoddle tackle”.

There are many characters in the book, but Pearson does not patronise or sentimentalise them. There are the Len Shackleton-obsessed shopkeeper, Fat Bugger and the infamous Sunderland Skinheed. Such clichés as ‘Northern Wit’, ‘gritty’ and ‘down-to-earth’ could be applied to The Far Corner, but as Pearson himself often discovers, “these clichés…reflect a kind of truth”.

Pearson’s relative detachment, as he visits many clubs in the north-east (from Billingham Sythonia to Newcastle) – and the fact he keeps his own Middlesbrough obsession in the background – is also appealing. Your football reading is not complete without this book in your library.

Buy this book from Amazon

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