A Great Read


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO


In the early nineties a friend loaned me a copy of Harry Pearson's The Far Corner. At first I declined it as it was predominantly all about North-East non-league football which in truth I had no interest in but he pointed out that there was a chapter dedicated to each of the North East's league teams, including Hartlepool.

I can say it is the funniest book on football that I have ever read. I have read and re-read it on numerous occasions and still find it hilarious. His description of Skeddy is class.

At one match his attention is taken away by an obnoxious, foul-mouthed youth stood directly behind him on the terracing with badly self-inflicted tattoos on his arms, snot coming out of his nose, cuts and bruises on his arms and hands and the worse case of acne he had ever seen. To top it all off he had several love bites around his neck. The match in question was all but forgotten about with the author thinking "What sort of person in what sort of mindset would 'neck' with this person?"

Over the years I have purchased three copies of The Far Corner which I have let my friends borrow, none of which I ever saw again as they in turn were loaned out to their friends and never returned.

Almost twenty five years later the follow up book The Farther Corner has been published. Needless to say, upon receipt I devoured it and made a bee-line to the chapter about his visit to the Pools v Salford match which, again, was side-splitting. He also makes reference to the Pools v Blyth cup match some seasons earlier, about two lads who ran onto the pitch in mankinis being chased in hot pursuit by an overweight steward and a six foot monkey waving a banana over his head.
"...as Harry Pearson said, "Something always happens at a Hartlepool match." "

I think it was even funnier as I, having been at this particular match, had forgotten all about the incident but, as Harry Pearson said, "Something always happens at a Hartlepool match."

He also refers to the train journey from Sunderland to Hartlepool, presumably on a Pacer train, as "The Durham Riveria Express". Priceless.

This book follows very much the same pattern as The Far Corner with many interesting potted facts about the teams featured and their towns. By all accounts Tow Law's ground is the highest above seal level in England and as such, the coldest. One of the club's directors once cited that at one match you couldn't see the snow falling because of the fog!

The only criticism I have of the book is that when the author, who is well-travelled and has written other books (Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows) on the North East, he refers to Aycliffe fans as being Teesciders. The last time I looked (about one minute ago), Aycliffe was nearly 14 miles from the River Tees. I cannot imagine anyone from Aycliffe wanting to be called a Teescider.

However, several chapters later, the Pearson atones for himself by painting a picture, much like The Scream, of the town of his birth. Middlesbrough.

The Farther Corner is an excellent read for those with a sarcastic and cynical sense of of life. It goes without saying that I will be reading this book again in a few months' time and if anyone want to borrow it ...they know where the library is!

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