Albert Camus & Racing Universitaire d’Alge

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NEAR POST: Literary Goalkeepers – Albert Camus, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle & Vladimir Nabokov

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I came across an interesting blog post today, whilst doing some research on Albert Camus and Racing Universitaire d’Alger (as you do).

Entitled ‘Writers, doctors, goalkeepers‘ and posted to the UCL SSEES Research Blog this time last year, Tim Beasley-Murray writes about the UCL German Department’s research project in the ‘medical inhumanities’, doctors who were also writers, and, more pertinently for No Standing, writers who were also goalkeepers.

Here, I quote liberally from the text of the blog:

“[The article makes] reference to the curious phenomenon of goalkeepers who are also writers (or perhaps better: writers who sometimes played in goal). Here, too, it is easy to see the grounds for this: while the rest of his team rushes about outfield, it is the goalkeeper who has the time between his sticks to think and to dream. As the Slovene-Austrian writer, Peter Handke (1942- ) suggests in his wonderfully entitled Novelle of 1970, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (well, it sounds better in German), the solitariness of the goalkeeper has a forcefully existential dimension that can easily result in a turn to literature.

Famous figures in the tradition of writer goalkeepers include Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (Scottish, 1859-1930) who kept goal for Portsmouth Association Football Club and is the member of a very exclusive club of writers who were both physicians and goalkeepers, and, of course, Albert Camus (French, 1913-1960). Camus was goalie for the Racing Universitaire d’Alger, winning the North African Champions Cup and the North African Cup twice each in the 1930s. When asked later about his time as a goalkeeper, Camus declared proudly:

After many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA.

The Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was an excellent all-round sportsman, at times earning his living as a tennis and boxing coach and, while at Trinity, Cambridge, playing in goal for the College. (He was, of course, also a zoologist and a lepidopterist and much has been said about his particular alliance of the sciences and the humanities.) The last word, then, goes to Nabokov in his autobiographical Speak, Memory:

As with folded arms I leant against the left goalpost, I enjoyed the luxury of closing my eyes, and thus I would listen to my heart knocking and feel the blind drizzle on my face, and hear in the distance the broken sounds of the game, and think of myself as of a fabulous exotic being in an English footballer’s disguise composing my verse in a tongue nobody understood about a remote country nobody knew. Small wonder I was not very popular with my team-mates.”

Tim Beasley-Murray is Senior Lecturer in European Thought and Culture at UCL-SSEES.

WHO ARE YA? Anthony Cooper, Campo Sports Ltd

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Campo Retro, quality retro football shirts

1) Who are ya?

My name is Anthony, I’m 25 years old and live in Manchester

2) Who do you support?

Being from Manchester it was natural to support Man City of course! But I lie, I was a Man City fan because of my Dad and went to school during United’s most successful years being surrounded by United fans whilst we sat in the depths of League 1.

3) What was your first game?

My first game was Everton at home. It was the first game of the 90-91 season and we won 1-0. I honestly cannot remember any of it as I was only two. I have it from memory as my Dad told me he hid me under his jacket to get me through the turnstiles for free.

4) What do you do for a job?

I work at http://www.camporetro.com/ doing partnerships and social media work. The kind of job I’ve been striving to get over the last few years through side projects like the Football Blogging Awards, which is how Campo discovered me. Not only did them offer me a job, they agreed to sponsor the Football Blogging Awards in a multi-year deal!

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No, unfortunately. I once applied for a job at Man City and was turned down. Also, I never really plied my trade playing football, as quite frankly, I am shocking with a ball at my feet! I can see my future working with plenty of football clubs from a commercial point of view at Campo but at the minute my number is zero.

6) How did you get into it?

I started by writing a football blog and one thing led to another.

7) What do you get out of it?

Being able to work in football and work in something you enjoy. You spend about half your life working so why spend half your life being miserable!

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

I would say to others if you get an idea in your head and think it could work, why not try it. I told a couple of friends and my brother about the Blogging Awards before starting it. They laughed and told me it was stupid. Last year we reached 10m people and took 30k votes. Next year we expect it to at least double [It will, ‘cos of all the votes for No Standing!!! – GM]. Although it’s not easy! Expect a lot of hard work and all of it unpaid. I’m yet to see a penny of hundreds of hours work put in for the Football Blogging Awards but it’s all been worth it to get to where I am now career-wise.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Nothing. Why live with regret? What I will do is look at it from a future perspective and think how can I improve it.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

I have plenty of idols and of course I’m going to choose a City legend. I would have to say either Shaun Goater or Shaun Wright-Phillips. Both were knocked-back throughout their early careers, being told they would not make the cut, and I suppose the message is is that you should never give up. At City they prospered and are now held in the hearts of thousands of City fans I’m sure.

Many thanks, Anthony.

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Campo also support one of the fine football publications that I write for, The Football Pink

Football & Comedy: Lenin of the Rovers

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Lenin of the Rovers – Alexei Sayle as Ricky Lenin

I have made several posts on Football & Comedy previously, including Monty Python and Harry Enfield’s Television Programme, but I recently came across this hidden gem that I was previously unaware of. I’m a big Alexei Sayle fan but this passed me by at the time, most probably because it was on BBC Radio 4.

I’m talking about Lenin of the Rovers.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Lenin of the Rovers was a BBC Radio 4 comedy series from 1988 written by Marcus Berkmann and Harry Thompson and starring Alexei Sayle as Ricky Lenin, Russian captain of Felchester Rovers – Britain‘s only communist football team. Other players in the team were Stevie Stalin (Andrew McLean) and Terry Trotsky (Phil Cornwell). The team was managed by Des Frankly and Colonel Brace-Cartwright (Ballard Berkeley for Series 1 episodes 1 and 2, Donald Hewlett thereafter) who were frequently interviewed by Frank Lee Brian (real-life football commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme). John Sessions and Jim Broadbent made character appearances in Series 2. The title is a parody of the long-running football-themed comic strip, Roy of the Rovers.

The show parodied many aspects of British football in the late 1980s, such as the increasing presence of mass commercialisation, intrusive and rarely accurate media, and fan violence.

The script also made frequent use of Ricky Lenin’s attempts to fit in with what he saw as a ‘western lifestyle’, in a similar way to some of Sayle’s appearances as the Balowski Family in The Young Ones. Situations included the trouble caused by the ghost-writing of Ricky’s column in The Daily Tits (parodying The Sun) – a complicated argument in favour of collectivism in Lenin’s original was transformed to “I hate all paddies, but I wouldn’t mind giving that Gloria Hunniford one” in the paper; the North-South economic divide in England (“In Crunchthorpe there’s a hundred and three per cent unemployment. The Government uses the place to dump nuclear waste! They pile it up in the town centre, outside Freeman Hardy and Willis“) and films The Titfield Thunderbolt and Apocalypse Now. A knowledge of football was useful for the appreciation of the series, but not essential. The script took great delight in the violent nature of professional football at the time:

Northern pundit: “The average Crunchsider knows his football like the back of his hand. And what he really likes to see is really elegant, skilful one-touch players. Out in the middle of the park, screaming in agony, clutching their gonads.”

Commentator: “So Crunchthorpe don’t really go in for one-touch play, then?”

Northern pundit: “Oh, aye, they do. Provided the one touch is delivered just below the kneecaps like a steam hammer hitting an avocado…”

A running gag was various characters (particularly Sayle) speaking lines from pop songs as dialogue. The fictional town of Felchester was presumably a joke: a reference to felching, conflating that term with Melchester, the fictional home of Roy of the Rovers.

1st series 1988

  1. Up for the Coup
  2. Felcherama
  3. The Fifth Man
  4. Max Gut

2nd series 1989

  1. Ghosts and Goolies
  2. The Felchester Firm
  3. Apocalypse Des
  4. The Final Solution

Series 2 was released as a double-cassette set in 1992.”

You can buy the one copy of the series available from Amazon here.

Karl Marx’s discourse on the best way to score a goal:

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Ricky Lenin, heading the ball following strict Marxist dogma

 

The successful conversion of a spherical projectile under a communist system is often best effected by placing a well-built worker in such a manner as to deflect, cranially, the aforementioned leather globe when flighted to an appropriate altitude… Well, he means ‘Duckhead, lob it up to the big man in the box!’

See http://www.wsc.co.uk/the-archive/42-Media/7939-radio-revolution

Alexei Sayle’s ‘Stalin Ate My Homework’ is also an excellent read.