Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Phil Ball in Spain

In Eamon Dunphy's wonderful book 'Only a Game?' he narrates, in semi-diary style, the events of a season in the old English Second Division, warts and all. Loadsawarts. It's a carbuncular book. It was the first of its kind, but it remains the best, and it spawned a whole genre of inferior imitators. At one point late in the book, Dunphy's career with Millwall is going down the tubes, because he's getting older and a younger midfielder is being preferred to him - among other reasons. Left out of the squad for the first time in years for a Saturday match, he stays at home and mopes on his sofa, switching on the old BBC sports programme Grandstand to watch the final scores. Millwall have lost at home, and he is exultant. He shakes his fist with glee in front of the TV, as if his team-mates' defeat were an endorsement of his own feeling that he is not finished yet, that he shouldn't have been dropped. And yet as an intelligent man he feels guilty. He knows he is supposed to ring them and sympathise - but he doesn't.

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