Podcast: Discussing Football in Fiction with Lee McGowan

Stirling-born Lee McGowan is a Scots Irish football researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

His book Football in Fiction is among the first titles commissioned and published by the Collective’s Critical Research in Football series with Routledge.

It’s a panoramic and exhaustive journey through the fiction literature about football in the English language and beyond. Like the many of the best books, you keep hoping to catch the author out with something he has missed, but Lee has missed nothing.

He is also the co-author, with Fiona Crawford, of Never Say Die, a history of the women’s game in Australia. It is another major contribution to the literature on the beautiful game.

In this podcast he explains his life in football, from the supporters club buses of central belt Scotland to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France last year.

In a show that is invaluable listening to students of Football Studies, History, English Literature, Political Science and Social Sciences, Lee takes us on a journey through the world of Soccer fiction, from its earliest days in the late 19th Century to the explosion in football books since 1990.

He also provides an important summary of the growth of Australian women’s football with a summary of Never Say Die that he and Fiona released last year. It is a compelling story of how being the father of two Brisbane-born girls led him to co-produce a definitive history of the women’s game Down Under and how the national team, the Matildas, are perhaps the most recognisable and trusted brand in Australian sport.

It will be an invaluable teaching resource for many members of the Collective.

Lee McGowan’s Top 5 Football novels

Thistle and the Grail by Robin Jenkins

The Thistle is the local football team of a small Lanarkshire town; the grail they pursue is the Scottish Junior Cup. The team is not one of the great clubs of the land, yet as it approaches the Final the whole community of Drumsagart is drawn into a struggle with unexpected circumstances.

The Blinder by Barry Hines

Lenny Hawk was magic. He could do things with a football the opposition hadn’t even thought of. He had the world at his feet, and a chip on his shoulder.

He had a glittering future: as a soccer player, as a college student, or with the boss’s daughter… but he had enemies, who played for higher stakes – and they were just as talented.

Red or Dead and/or the Damned Utd by David Peace

Peace brings his intensely imaginative internal fictional monologue style to the a reinvention of the non-fictional lives of two of British footballs greatest iconoclasts: Bill Shankly and Brian Clough, respectively.

Exposure by Mal Peet

A massive football star has it all but someone is plotting his downfall in a breathtaking retelling of Othello set in South America.

Revered as a national hero … married to the desirable Desmerelda … cherished by the media … football star, Otello, has it all. But a sensational club transfer sparks a media frenzy, and when he is wrongly implicated in a scandal, the footballer’s life turns into a tragic spiral of destruction. South America’s top sports journalist, Paul Faustino, witnesses the power of the media in making and breaking people’s lives.

Heartland – Anthony Cartwright

It is Spring 2002, with local elections looming. A mosque is being built on the site where Cinderheath’s iconic steelworks once dominated the town. ‘The Tipton Three’, from just down the road, are imprisoned in Guantanamo; the BNP expect to win new seats on the council. St. George’s flags fly from cars and windows: the World Cup is beginning, England to play Argentina. But first, a controversial Sunday-league football game must take place, billed by the press as ‘a match to spark a race war’.

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