Away from the Numbers

Once the league ladders were sorted, I was free to choose between Shoot and Scoop depending upon whichever had the more interesting material on any given week. The best thing about Scoop was an imaginary league using real players selected to play in a regional British league: London, North West, Midlands, etc. I followed the results of Glasgow Wanderers, a mix of Rangers and Celtic players, with Alan Rough of Partick Thistle thrown in for good measure. The information was supposedly fed into a computer but it may well all have been dreamed up by a couple of guys sitting in an office somewhere drinking beer. In any case, I couldn’t wait to find out the results of these imaginary games, accompanying Mam to the newsagents on Thursdays to pick up the comics. Before we were even out of the shop I flicked through Scoop to find the score: Glasgow Wanderers 1 North West 1. Not bad, North West were a good side with players from the Liverpool and Manchester clubs. There was a league table along with a short match report and Wanderers were usually near the top. It strikes me now that this was a forerunner to Fantasy Football, which I’ve never paid much heed to as the game is full of fantasy anyway. Football keeps us young at heart.

I read the results in the Sunday papers every week. The classified check on a Saturday afternoon only required careful listening, but the Post or the Mail involved the mysteries of brackets and initials.

Wolves (1)1 Spurs (1)2

Dad thought this meant Wolves had scored one goal in the first half and one in the second. In other words, he reckoned the final score was Wolves 2 Spurs 3. I asked Mam about it one Sunday morning as she was shovelling ashes out of the grate into an old Press & Journal. When she had finished, she explained that the number in brackets was the half time score and the second the final result.

From the novel Countries of the World by Steven Porter/Breogan Books, 2011


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