All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football – Albert Camus
The World Cup is about to begin, so I thought a brief guide for librarians would be useful.
The National Library of South Africa is celebrating the Football World Cup by donning Football jerseys every friday and by hosting exhibitions covering the history of Football in South Africa.
Whilst South Africa is most commonly associated in Australia with the sports of Rugby and Cricket, Football is actually the sport most supported and played by South Africans. There is a history to this as Cricket (English) and Rugby (Boer) were the sports favoured by the ruling classes during the colonial and later Apartheid eras. Whilst Football in South Africa, as around the world and most definately in Australia, has always been a multi-ethnic and essentially classless game (for Australia’s history see here).
Footballers and literature, aside from Camus, rarely mix. However there is in the UK (and across Europe and South America) a thriving literature on the subject produced by fans rather than players.
Football fanzines have long been produced by football fans in the UK, and have become an established literature similar in quality and writing to most literary fanzines. These were initially produced as an alternative to the expensive and creatively barren programmes that were and are still produced by the clubs themselves. Leading the way in the development was the first major inter-club fazine When Saturday Comes, which is now more of a magazine than a fanzine and has its own website.
The English author Nick Hornby established another football literary ouevre when he published in 1992 his bestselling Football supporter memoir Fever Pitch, which was followed by a slew more.
There is also a vast and growing range of memoirs of football hooligans, of which a good introduction is an article called Emotional Hooligan by Steve Redhead. The pulp fiction works of Richard Allen (James Moffat) are also a genre worth investigating for any Morrissey or violent youth culture devotee.
And to do with Libraries?
Well, while it is suspected that not many footballers are library patrons, you may be mistaken, at least overseas. In Norway they even have locker-room librarians. These are librarians who take books (and authors) to sporting clubs to promote reading. An article by Stig Elvis Furset of the Norwegian Archive discusses the program.
(Note when discussing Football I am talking of the original sport of gentlemen, not some rough game involving players hands)