Now, before you start moaning that this dream team of pen monkeys doesn’t include our holy trinity of rebels: Lord Byron, DH Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, let us explain why they didn’t make the final eleven. Alan Sillitoe had no interest in football at all. The only story he ever wrote that had a footy theme was called The Match and it’s about a frustrated Notts County fan who comes home and beats up his wife. DH Lawrence can’t be included because he would be too busy arguing with everyone and would be sent off before the whistle had even blown. As for Lord Byron, where do you start? Putting aside his limp, he would be driven to distraction by the tight shorts and bare legs, and was not the kind of person who would follow instructions. So he’s out too…
Graham Joyce was a writer of speculative fiction who has won more awards than Cloughie. He consistently produced enchanting and thought-provoking stories that make him a reliable, safe pair of hands in the eyes of his readers. It also helps that he was a regular first-choice goalkeeper for the England Writers’ Football Team. He described his footballing experiences in his non-fiction book Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular. Graham taught Creative Writing at NTU from 1996 until his death in 2014.
Paula Rawsthorne’s debut novel The Truth About Celia Frost is a fast-paced and chilling thriller, exactly the kind of qualities you want for someone you need to pelt it up the wing as well as track back to support your defence. She may not have the thighs of Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce, but she certainly has the fear factor.
Henry Kirke White
By age seven, White was teaching the family servant to read. He then learned Greek and Latin, got accepted to study at Cambridge and had a collection of poems published. Not bad for the son of a butcher. But his immense potential was lost when he carped it at 21. We’d like to give him the chance he never had, and the space to run up the right flank and dazzle the world with his gifted skills.
Panya is a performance poet and the hardest grandma you’ll ever come across. When she felt black voices were underrepresented, she created the Nottingham Black Archive. She may only be 4ft something, but she’s built of rock. No one would get past her and if they did, she’d retrieve the ball via her ankle-long dreadlocks.
Al is easily the funniest writer in Notts and so would distract any attacker with his bawdy, irreverent wit. His legendary May Contain Notts column created a cult following during his tenure as LeftLion editor. He’s written for all of the smutteh magazines and has a golden cock with wings on his mantelpiece, after winning Sex Blog of the Year. This is a man who has made a career out of his tackle, so would be the heart of our defence.
Michael Eaton (Captain)
The Cambridge-educated anthropologist has mapped out Nottingham’s history across screen and stage, from the exploits of notorious Victorian criminal Charlie Peace, to the blacklisted Hollywood writers who used the fifties Robin Hood TV serial to expose the injustices of McCarthyism. Michael, with his unequivocal knowledge of Nottingham, would orchestrate, play and dominate the park – and still find time for a shot of whisky and a cigar.
Christopher Richardson is a historian who has written about the chartists, socialists and co-operatives that emerged in Nottingham in the first half of the nineteenth century to fight against industrialisation and the inhumanities of the Poor Law. You don’t get more left wing than Richardson, and given his love of socialism, he’ll be happy to cross the ball over to feed others.
Greene lived in Nottingham from 1 Nov 1925 to 1 March 1926 while he worked as a sub-editor on the Nottingham Journal. He didn’t enjoy his time here, saying “an educated person in Nottingham is as rare and precious a find as jam in a wartime doughnut”. His eagerness to escape NG, coupled with a bipolar disorder that affected both his writing and personal life, mean he would be an unpredictable winger who would both infuriate and delight his home fans.
Nicola’s first two novels feature gutsy female heroines who dominate their environments. In her debut novel The Killing Jar, Kerrie-Ann Hill fights her way out of a tough council estate. In Starfishing, the battle takes place on the trade floor as Frankie Cavanagh, a LIFFE futures trader, has to work and play hard to keep up with the boys. Monaghan’s characters will do anything to survive and refuse to give up. So expect an elbow in the eye and nails down the thighs from our very own Roy Keane.
Having escaped a Russian gulag camp in 1941 and trekked 6,000km to his eventual freedom, Rawicz has the necessary stamina to keep moving throughout a game. His journey saw him endure extreme climates from the Gobi desert to Siberian blizzards. We have no doubt he will slip his marker and create an opportunity out of nothing.
Deborah is used to being followed around the park, having featured in a two-year Channel 4 documentary when she was sixteen. But the reason she’s our main striker is because she knows how to create opportunities, having helped form the Mouthy Poets collective. With commissions for Louis Vuitton, Oxford University, and BBC Radio’s The Verb, the author of Pigeon Party is guaranteed to get results in whatever she does.
Ross is the only person to have opened an independent bookshop this century, and so has the guts and balls to sort out our eleven writers. As a publisher and organiser of the Lowdham Book Festival, Ross has given a voice to the underdog and publishes on a diverse range of topics. But he’s a risky selection, as he’ll probably bring our players out on strike in aid of better wages and working conditions.
Ioney is a local filmmaker and writer. Her inspiring documentaries for the Nottingham Black Archive demonstrate an ability to coerce stories out of a broad range of people, and so would know exactly what tactics were needed to keep our players motivated.