BBC4 started re-runs of the classic comedy series from Michael Palin and Terry Jones, Ripping Yarns, last night.
Episode two of the second series of Ripping Yarns is ‘Golden Gordon’, a loving parody of a non-league football fan and Yorkshire football in general, filmed around Barnoldswick and Keighley.
It is 1935. On a stereotypically cold, wet, windswept and bleak West Yorkshire hillside sits the Sewage Works ground, home to Barnstoneworth United. Once a mighty team in the Yorkshire Premier League, they have now fallen on hard times.
Barnstoneworth United haven’t won a match in six years. After losing 8-1 to Brighouse, depressed United superfan Gordon Ottershaw comes home and smashes the furniture in his house in fury (my Dad, half-jokingly, used to say that he came home and kicked the cat, Lofty [named after Nat Lofthouse] when Bolton lost). His wife Eileen (Gwen Taylor) quietly accepts this. She keeps trying to tell him that she’s having a baby, but he seems not to notice.
“Eight One – Eight bloody One! – And even that were an own goal!”
Ottershaw has been teaching his son (who’s first name is Barnstoneworth, middle name United) every detail of the club’s results, players and statistics (again, my Dad has an almost preternatural ability to recall the scores of every match he’s ever been to, dating back to the mid 1950s). Over dinner, having memorised the 1922 side perfectly, his father chimes in at the end, sighing as he speaks:
” Won none. Drawn none. One cancelled owing to bereavement. Lost 18.”
A die-hard supporter, Ottershaw laments the clubs latest troubles over his custard pudding:
”Centre forward’s off with boils, two half back’s are going to a wedding and the goal-keepers got a cold. Chairman’ll sort it out.”
The Chairman in question will definitely sort it out. He plans to sell the club to a scrap merchant and walk away from it all with some brass in his back pocket. His only opinion of Gordon Ottershaw is that:
”It’s a form of madness you know, wearing your scarf in bed.”
Barnstoneworth are in dire trouble. On the training ground you’re more likely to hear ” He’s got my shorts on” and ” Can I go at half past six?” than you are any sounds of encouragement or tactical nous. But Gordon has a brain wave. He will round-up all the best surviving ex-Barnstoneworth players for the coming Saturday’s cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals. That will save the club!
The idea comes to him when he’s visiting (nay pleading) with the scrap dealer not to buy Barnstoneworth United and sell his beloved club down the river. The subject of when Barnstoneworth last won a game comes up… Quick as a flash superfan Gordon has the answer:
“October 7th, 1931. 2-0 against Pudsey.“
“Haggerty F, Ferris, Noble, Codren, Crapper, Davis, Sullivan, O’Grady, Kembell, Hacker and Davitt*. Davitt scored twice, once in 21st minute, once in 28th minute…”
”Davitt, he were hell of a player.” says the scrap merchant. ” He were bald weren’t he? Head like stainless steel.”
“That’s right. He once scored with the back of his head from 28 yards against Barnsley reserves in 1922.”
Saturday comes, and the Cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals kicks off. United only have four players (and three pairs of shorts), whereas the captain of the Denley Moor team is the famous Eric Olthwaite. Things look bad, but Gordon arrives with the old team who take to the field. Davitt opens the scoring with his bald head, and, shock of shocks, Barnstoneworth eventually win 8 – 1.
“8 BLOODY 1!”
‘Golden Gordon’ ends with Gordon smashing up his own home in celebration this time. Clock, photos, radio go flying out through the window as the Match of the Day theme plays. And it still hasn’t registered with him that his wife has been trying to tell him she is pregnant throughout the entire episode.
*The mighty Half Man Half Biscuit named their third album McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt in tribute to this episode, and the front cover is a still from the programme.
See also A Visit to Gordon Ottershaw’s House, by Merrick Cork, which talks about the Yorkshire footballing inspirations behind the episode.
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.
The Daily Worker Football Annual 1952-3
Velez Sarsfield, Argentina
With thanks to Beyond the Last Man for bringing them to my attention, here are some pictures and history of Chilean side Santiago Morning.
Action from a match in 1964, versus Green Cross
Team Group – 1950s?
Contrary to what me and Beyond the Last Man think, Santiago Morning are NOT a Fleetwood Mac support band from 1970s California…
Club de Deportes Santiago Morning (popularly known as Chaguito Morning or Morning), compete in the Chilean Primera División B, where they have won just one League Title in 100 years! Ideal hipster team material!
The original team, Santiago F.C., was founded in 1903 when Santiago established its own football association, thanks to the efforts of Santiago College’s students. The club was one of founders of the Chilean Primera División in 1933.
The club was renamed Santiago Morning in 1936, after the merger of Santiago F.C. and Morning Star.
Santiago Morning’s traditional rival is Magallanes, who they play in the ‘Metropolitan Derby’.
1) Who are ya?
Dave Langston, over 50, 2 grown up kids, one mad dog. Staffordshire, born in Aston, Birmingham but bought up in Winson Green. There’s currently a programme on TV called Benefits St. Well, this street was posh to me as a kid, that’s the impression I got as I went to school on the corner of that street anyway, and I still have found memories. But, it’s not were you start is it? It’s where you end up.
2) Who do you support?
3) What was your first game?
I think it was West Brom v Leicester at about 6 or 7 years old. Had been pestering my brother to take me for ages. Was bored stiff until Jeff Astle scored one of his famous scorching headers, I swear the net seemed to bulge so much I thought it was going to hit me in the face! I ended up 30 feet forward from my brother and had to be carried back over the heads of the other fans in the Brummie Road end.
4) What do you do for a job?
I sell football memorabilia from my site http://matchdaymemories.com.
I’ve been doing this for about 15 years and I don’t mind saying it swings from being a decent income to an expensive hobby. Although I sell other things, the site is mostly known for selling vintage football magazines as I can sell hundreds a month.
This probably accounts for the swings in income as they have to be bought in bulk to make it worthwhile and it’s a lot of work preparing magazines for sale. Each page has to be checked and there is a lot of waste. We maybe sell only 20% of what we buy in 12 months. But I love it and can supplement it with income from other areas.
I worked for a long time as an Internet Architect, so building websites is easy for me. I don’t advertise that but people do get passed on and I tend to do hand holding for people who are new to owning a website. I also built some sites for free to help promote football collecting of any sort and some for charity too.
In the past, I used to renovate and build Snooker tables. You might have seen me setting up the tables for BBC’s Pot Black in the 70s / 80s.
I went to University at the age of 35 and then worked for a Water Utility company.
5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?
6) How did you get into it?
7) What do you get out of it?
8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?
9) If you could do it all again what would you change?
Go to university at an earlier age.
10) Who’s your footballing hero?
Ask any Albion fan over 40 and he’ll say Jeff Astle or Tony Brown. Over 30 years and it’ll be Robson, Regis, Cuningham etc.. For the over-50s it might be Ronnie Allen. All of those, but Jeff & Tony are special to me simply because they socialised with the fans and Tony Brown still does. But I think age has told me to respect any players from any club (except Wolves, Villa, the Blues!!!) who plays the game in the right way and lasts – I think this is getting harder as time goes on.
Many thanks Dave. All the best.
German Adidas Catalogue 1968, football boots, via Voices of East Anglia
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