Title: How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the F.A. Cup
Author: J.L. Carr
What I Think So Far: Books and football, while most of the time at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of intellectualism, sometimes come together to create some great things. How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the F.A. Cup is a prime example of those occasions. A fictional account of how a non-league team from some corner of rural England come to win the F.A. Cup in the 1970s is perfect story fodder: the struggle of David and Goliath, a triumph against all odds. The story is told through the diary of Joe Gidner, who recounts how the local football team in a tiny irrelevant village, the eponymous Steeple Sinderby Wanderers, go from mid-table in a tiny regional league to winning the F.A. Cup, the second biggest trophy in British football. It has the air of a classical England about it, a wistful nostalgia and longing for simple satisfaction found through simple pleasures, in this case, the working man’s game of football. Carr evokes images of a bygone era in football, muddy pitches, men in caps and simple kits, playing their sport in front of audiences approaching ten thousand rather than a hundred thousand; just a simple, brutalist game. In this era it reads like a history, collected through documents, although sometimes Carr spends less time on the football and more on the characters, with varying results. It’s often irritating if you want to read a football book.
Would I Recommend It?: Yes. It’s a really great book to read, even if you’re not a football fan. The characters are on the whole well written and developed by Carr, and the book balances the plates of the story – football and the tale of Joe Gidner – pretty well, bar Carr’s insistence of keeping a lot of the matches shrouded in mystery bar the scoreline and goals. Aside from this, it’s a book to be enjoyed by everyone, a rare phenomenon in books, but it’s not a masterpiece of literature.
Words by Gabriel Rutherford