How Times Have Changed

It was a few computers ago that I wrote She Stood There Laughing (published 2004). It’s out of print now so the copyright has reverted to me. As an experiment I am going to publish it to Amazon Kindle (to make sure I can do it, for The Final). I found a copy of the document under a pile of dust on a Maxell Superdisc and am currently going through it checking codes and spellings (it’s not the final page proofed doc). It’s normally quite painful to re-read old work (I suppose you think you’ve moved on, or improved, unless you were sure you wrote a classic, but that feeling must surely be most rare). Still, this exercise hasn’t been so horrid and I’ve just found a bit I liked, as below. The other thing that has struck me throughout is how prescient I was in predicting the great future that Tony Pulis would bring to us humble Potters…

Carrow Road was the final destination to which you could travel without the need to be a True Supporter. Perhaps because of this some fans were making their last stand: given the adverse weather and the distance involved, our following was more than decent in number. And suddenly in much more than decent voice too. Some kind of snow madness took over as the second half began and our singing worked itself to a crescendo. We ran through the entire repertoire, including full verse and chorus of the cup song that the team recorded in ’72 – We’ll be With You (every step along the way) – which is in the vein of the England squad’s 1970 groove Back Home and doesn’t often get the twelve inch outing. It was stirring stuff, and I felt proud of us. In fact, it was so stirring that the team felt ashamed of themselves and atoned by producing a goal, a solid header scored by our other remaining first-choice Icelandic player, Brynjar Gunnarsson. Brynjar had been a star in the Second Division, but the step up to the First had exposed the limitations of his imagination and ability. It would be kindest to him to say he’d been having a very average year. I have noticed that he tends to lift his game when it’s particularly cold – fortunately he’d arrived in Norwich to find weather conditions that suited him. The cross for his goal was provided by the damaged-swan Hoekstra who had decided that the second half at Carrow Road was the arena in which he was going to give his finest display of the season. When this happens, he’s the best player on any First Division pitch by a distance. We were back in it, and Jack felt confident enough to re-gesticulate at his mates who had turned sullen and were refusing either eye or finger contact. We were more than back in it, we were suddenly in charge. The day had begun, however, with Norwich in the top six and us in the bottom three. A home side that goes two up under those starting conditions cannot lose. Still, I felt oddly sanguine. Suddenly the tide had turned and we were acquitting ourselves as well as we had all season. Though the team were still getting beat, they were not actively embarrassing me, and that was almost enough. Take Thommo, for instance, our right back who is useless with his head in the specific sense that he is devoid of a brain. He clattered one of their players on the half-way line (his outstanding feature is his clumsiness). Normally he’d follow this up by threatening the bloke while he was still on the deck thus ensuring he’d earn himself a sending-off. I almost admire him for this; in these days of the anodyne athlete footballer he’s the nearest we’ve got to a character. In a change to his predictable routine, Thommo went in for the novel technique of presenting imaginary stud marks down his thigh to the ref, as if it were the other player who was at fault, thereby only receiving a booking. I regarded this as real progress: could it possibly be the case that this nincompoop was coming to the realisation that we play better with eleven men on the pitch than we do with ten? (no worse, anyway). His antics woke the home fans up, which had the effect of lifting his game. He fired on down the channel like an old-style wing back, adding to our threat. Jack hunkered low in concentration beside me, pensive, but in an improved condition as a consequence of the one recovered goal. The sun dropped away in the West. For a moment I nearly felt happy.

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14 Responses to How Times Have Changed

  1. markelt says:

    How did Ollie and Dylan do on Kindle? I did notice they were on there

  2. Al says:

    Thinking of you Stokies this week -and wish you all the best againt Citeh on Saturday.

    As a QPR fan, I’m just coming down from the high of last Saturday when we went from dread to delirium as the magic words “no points deduction” were conveyed across Shepherds Bush in an instant.

    Best party ever in W12 after the game. Hope you’ll be able to celebrate THIS saturday ;))

    Al (long time lurker)

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    Not much but they were made Kindle-available long after their main sales burst; I don’t think you’d expect a lot to be honest.

    Once I’m ready to go live with The Final I’ve got quite a few football websites who are friendly who will promote; the Sentinel have offered to run an extract and then there’s twitter: I know Tinchy’s fans might not be the main audience for it but if he plugs it on his feed that’s 250,000 followers etc.

    And you yourself can link it to your blog ; )

  4. Stephen Foster says:

    Cheers Al the LTL.

    You must be looking forward to seeing the Longthrow in real life next season, what a perfect compact pitch Loftus Rd is for it : )

  5. Lee Wright says:

    She Stood There Laughing, without doubt a football classic. Only Mark Hodkinson (Rochdale fan) has come close to writing a fans view of the season on the same kind of scale. Though you beat SSTL with your follow up!

    Hope Stoke do better than Hinckley United though. Last night we lost 5-4 to Quorn FC in the Leicestershire Cup final at Leicester’s Walkers stadium. All goals were scored in normal time…! Shock horror!

  6. Stephen Foster says:

    Dear O dear; that really sounds like losing to AFC Vegetarians We Care Not a Row of Buttons for the Goal Nature Alone is Beautiful.

    Nb thanks : )

  7. Al says:

    Yeah ,but as the stands are so close to the action , “he” might get restrained by some of our fans in the act of throwing 😉

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    You could* get a points deduction for that sort of thing : )

  9. Steve Phelps says:

    SSTL was a classic, so much more interesting to pick up off the bookshelf than a glory tale. It was an inspiration to me with regards to writing and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Have a great day at Wembley, hope the result is better than the last time Mr Pulis faced Man City at Wembley…!!

  10. Stephen Foster says:

    Cheers Steve, I was Most Definitely Not touting for people to say, ‘But O my dear boy you so have writ a classic,’ but on the other hand I will not turn the comp down : )

    All the world will be a Stokie on Sat, I am getting right excited.

  11. calvininjax says:

    Shouldn’t that be “reet excited”?

    You’ve been hanging out with Delia again. 😉

  12. Wingers Mum says:

    When asked ” what is your Son’s favourite book for you ” it is always SSTL xxx Mum

  13. Stephen Foster says:

    * hangs head in shame *

    ‘I dunner know what come over me youth.’ (in fey whiney forgotten-his-roots squeak).

    Actually Delia has sent me a card saying she will be ‘hoping praying and cheering for us to do eet in the cup!’

  14. Stephen Foster says:

    Thanks mam x

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