The thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.
Football is supposed to be a gentleman's game, played on venerable university lawns for honour, polite applause and a hearty match tea afterwards. Unfortunately for the gentlemen, the rest of the world doesn't see it that way. Football has moved on, to the streets, and now it inhabits a world of pies, chants and jumpers for goalposts. This is a world where a talent for keeping tin cans in the air could make you a local celebrity, and where any polite applause is lost in the roar of pitched battles between fans. This is a world oflife or death.
And if the gentlemen want to try and bend it to their rules again, they're going to have a fight on their hands.
It was midnight in Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Art Museum.
It occurred to new employee Rudolph Scattering about once every minute that on the whole it might have been a good idea to tell the Curator about his nyctophobia, his fear of strange noises and, he now knew, his fear of absolutely every thing he could see (and, come to that, not see), hear, smell and feel crawling up his back during the endless hours on guard during the night. It was no use telling himself that everything in here was dead. That didn’t help at all. It meant that he stood out.
And then he heard the sob. A scream might have been better.At least you are certain when you’ve heard a scream. A faint sob is something you have to wait to hear again, because you can’t be sure. He raised his lantern in a shaking hand. There shouldn’t be anyone in here. The place was securely locked; no one could get in. Or, now he came to think about it, out. He wished he hadn’t thought about it. He was in the basement, which was not among the most scary places on his round. It was mostly just old shelves and drawers, full of the things that were almost, but very definitely not entirely, thrown away. Museums don’t like things to be thrown away, in case they turn out to be very important later on. Another sob, and a sound like the scraping of . .. pottery?
A rat, then, somewhere on the rear shelves? Rats didn’t sob, did they? ‘Look, I don’t want to have to come in there and get you! ’ said Scattering with heartfelt accuracy. And the shelves exploded. It seemed to him to happen in slow motion, bits of pottery and statues spreading out as they drifted towards him. He went over backwards and the expanding cloud passing overhead crashed into the shelves on the other side of the room, which were demolished. Scattering lay on the floor in the dark, unable to move, expecting at any moment to be torn apart by the phantoms bubbling up from his imagination …
The subject matter is football, with a dash of Romeo and Juliet ...exactly what's needed to cheer us all up in the autumnal gloom. Terry has lost none of his ability to raise a laugh.
- Daily Express
Behind the fantasy Terry Pratchett looks at very real contemporary issues and scores many goals. This isn't just football, it's Discworld football. Or, to borrow another phrase, it's about life, the Universe, and everything.
- The Times
Press the play button below to listen to a short audio excerpt.