Harry Pearson’s Dribble!

Let it be known that I am Harry Pearson’s biggest fan. I’ve read all of his articles, got a cutting of his hair…

I discovered him via his book The Far Corner which although tells of football around the North-East, I can still recognise from when I followed Barrow AFC around many years ago.

I travelled to Spennymoor, to South Bank (a hard fought nil-nil in the FA Cup Qualifiers) and to Crook Town.

Much of what he wrote happened in the Northern Premier League too, which at that time included some North Eastern teams. Many of the matches in the middle of nowhere, on a winswept field on the side of a hill.

I remember reading The Far Corner on the train and bursting out with laughter at some of the passages. Wanting to get up and read them aloud to everybody else in the carriage.

It’s been a few years since reading his books and recently decided to reacquaint myself with Mr Pearson’s writings. I was overjoyed when he started a blog, in which he has posted a few of his old WSC articles.

I looked through his published works and saw one book which somehow I had missed:

» Dribble!: The Unbelievable Encyclopaedia of FootballDribble!

Ten years in the making, this A-to-Z of incredible facts and stories about what Pelé once memorably dubbed “my bloody job,” includes definitive explanations of everyday phrases such as “the magic of the cup” and “low center of gravity;” a complete guide to becoming a terrace wit; and an in-depth account of how Roy Keane’s pajamas got him a smack on the nose. It also addresses hitherto ignored aspects of the beautiful game, including its longstanding relationship with country and western music.

Suffice to say that I immediately ordered a copy. This looked like an ideal book for a summer read on the beach. Something which is lighthearted and irrelevant.

I was puzzled by a reviewer on Amazon who bought it expecting something similar to The Far Corner or Slipless In Settle. If he took the time to read the above description he would have seen that this was not going to be anything like that. In this book Harry Pearson did something that I attempted with The Meaning Of Biff, but he did it better. My (crap) attempt has short dictionary definitions, with Pearson he he took this further and writes amusing notes on a subject such as:

Getting the Ball

Whenever a player is sent off for crunching into an opponent with all the finesse of a drunken clog dancer with a dead leg, his manager and the TV pundits will defend him by complaining that he ‘got the ball’.
      This phrase has been repeated so often that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that if some football folk had their way the He Got The Ball Principle would replace presumption of innocence as the cornerstone of the English legal system. A defence attorney would then address the jury: “While it is true that my client murdered Mr Smith in cold blood, cut his body into pieces using a chainsaw and then buried it at various locations across the Home Counties, I would like to remind you that he did get the ball.” The judge bringing an end to the consequent wild hullabaloo in court only by rappung his gavel and croaking, “Case dismissed. Release the accused.”

There’s not only this sort of thing but also anecdotes and other funny tales that are all a good chuckle.
As mentioned this is a great book to take with you on the beach. You don’t have to read it front to back, you can dip in anywhere and find another funny bit of prose. If you like your Monty Python’s, your Douglas Adams’s, this one is right up the route ones for you.

Because this is Football and Music you’ll be looking for some video or audio now. The only thing I thought fitting was this from The Likely Lads:

» Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads – Radio Show – No Hiding Place

» Highly Likely – Whatever Happened To You (The Likely Lads theme)

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