Football Folklore: The Duty Of The Football Writer

illya mclellanSenior Analyst ISeptember 23, 2009

Throughout history, there have been the heroes and the scribes who seek to portray the exploits of said heroes to the people.

At best, these portrayals have been sweeping epics that engage the mind of the reader and cause the imagination to run wild with ideas of emulation and adoration.

From Beowulf to Pele, thousands of years have passed from hero to hero, and though the endeavor of these characters has changed considerably from what they were once engaged in, both the writer and the reader are still able to identify with the "hero factor."

The duty of the football writer is to take the efforts of the heroic footballer and transcribe them to the page in whatever form it takes and try to recapture the magic that was for a moment seen emanating from the individual or team that is supported by a particular group of people.

At times, this is easy because the individual being written about is universally admired by the majority of the footballing public. At other times, it someone who is a villain to some and a super hero to others.

In either case, the situation remains remarkably similar, in that the hero fills a place in the psyche of the writer and reader that is reserved for those who take the ordinary,which is—in the case of football—a football boot and a ball and transform it into the extraordinary.

This, of course, is made possible through the mythology of the game and the preceding years that have seen heroes rise and fall and dynasties do the same.

The mythology of any sport is vital to the evolution of its coverage, and in this media-saturated age, we find ourselves bombarded with more coverage than ever before. In some cases rendering the mythology useless as people become bored and indifferent to the stories that litter the journalistic landscape.

But in any case, it is with memories and information that any writer starts to write. And based on the freshest information garnered on the bedrock of prior knowledge, they are able to attempt to engage their reader in the point they are making and, in doing so, attempt to do their duty.

And that duty is to tell heroic tales and amazing exploits that can range from the crazy career of someone like Robin Friday to the controlled and disciplined efforts of Ryan Giggs.

In any case, the story will always be written because there are those who love to write, and those who give these writers material to write about.

The folklore of the game is as vital to the game as the football because it creates the mythology and enables the fan to bridge the gap between games with stories and reports of both greatness and villainy, along with victory and defeat. 

Gone are the days of people hunching over in the alley next to the newsagent, reading the latest match report, but still the stories are written. With the click of a button, the stories are on their way; some into the realm of folklore and others to the increasing archive of ignominy.