J.L. Carr’s “How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won The FA Cup” published by Penguin Books is an enjoyable short story that chronicles the success of fictional amateur side Steeple Sinderby Wanderers as they nonchalantly decide to compete in the Football Association Challenge Cup and proceed to lift the trophy at Wembley the same season. The geographical location of Steeple Sinderby is ambiguous but the club’s players, employees and associates are all village folk from the English back-country.
It may be far-fetched but the narrative is witty and glorious in its representation of the unglamorous reality of 1970’s English Football as seen by players and fans alike. The book is filled with classic lines about fan behaviour, some of the finest we have collected and share with you now. Enjoy, and do consider taking the opportunity to read the book in full.
“‘Choose a field so small that your opponents cannot pack in more supporting Noise than yourselves can muster. And, because Sinderby will be invaded by great hordes, you must find a field with strong natural defences'”
All eleven Hackthorners crammed their own area and, with great courage, blocked their bailiwick with backs, heads, chests and, from piercing streaks of agony, I diagnose other things
“When I went to him with my problem of dealing with the crowd expected for the Hartlepool game, he at once advanced £400 for defence works”
A fight had broken out behind the Hartlepool goal where a wad of Teesiders had been baiting the local supporters – first banteringly but, after the second goal, turning ugly
“Struck his persecutor a mighty back-hander which witnesses wonderingly declared knocked him through the two rear ranks, carrying three others with him to the greensward… from which they rose and, in true English fashion, uncomplainingly resumed their places as though nothing out of the way had happened. Except the Hartlepool lout, who lay sobbing as the blood dribbled between his fingers”
The awful wilderness skirting Leeds. Not so much black as blighted. The natives seemed to have lost heart and just let their litter lie…. brick-strewn wasteland, drainage lakes choked with collapsed pit machinery and car bodies, the edge of one town lost in the next. Astonishingly, it was inhabited
“In closing, he had the opinion that threatening crowd noise such as emitted at Newcastle and Millwall actually induced fear amongst players far from home”
I have to admit that I was somewhat stirred by this unfaltering blind loyalty- contradicting, as it did, the moralists who declare that the modern Englishman cares for nothing except his own back and belly
“Interrupting three skinheads busily knocking out Mrs Billison’s new cottage windows, was dragged across the green outside the Bull, to be martyred by boots”
“You great louts! Where is your manhood?”, dealing pendulum blows amongst watchers and watched without discrimination, hitting one head so hard that the pan lid flew off like a discuss, removing three teeth as neatly as surgery from another head’s mouth
“Edgar would have been prepared to let natural justice take its course had not the youth lashed out with his steel-tipped boots and caught him on the shin. Then execution was brief but terrible”
The second youth was similarly assaulted whilst the first victim crawled away, his big read hands covering his eyes and weeping
“Finding a clutch of vandals in his circular dovecot smashing the interesting revolving apparatus much praised by industrial archaeologists, slammed the ancient oak door and padlocked it, thus leaving them the same exit as the birds- a narrow funnel in the middle of the stone slab roof. For the first hour they hammered, banged, kicked and yelled threats, the second hour they throttled down to ‘Let us out, Mister, we have the coach to catch'”