Given the lack of association football in Wodehouse (plenty of cricket, rugger, amateur athletics, tennis, golf and racing of course) it might not seem the obvious thing to come up with a PGW soccer eleven. But you never know when you might need one. Here’s mine, with accompanying comments from the selectors.
GOAL: Sir Roderick Glossop. (It’s said that goalkeepers are mad. I don’t know. But a loony doctor will do for starters. It’s a pity he’s fictional, as there does seem to be a bit of an English goalkeeping drought going on at the moment. Perhaps Paul Robinson should begin to play “in role.”) I’ve left Ickenham off the bench, but he has a track record for standing in for Glossop, and will step up should the need arise.
FULL BACKS: Aunts Agatha Gregson and Dahlia Travers bring a kind of good cop/bad cop to the centre of defence, very much in the Rio Ferdinand/John Terry mould. What they lack in pace they make up for in intelligence, staying one step ahead of the game and letting nothing past them. Travers brings a vocal presence to the team. Beckenbauer won’t be able to accuse THIS side of schoolboyishness. “Crusher” Gregson is supposed to eat broken bottles, so will have little trouble with lightweight modern front players of the Crouch or Owen mould. On the bench, a man rather prone to playing up his injuries, Beach, and a veteran of the early years of the game, Lord Emsworth.
MIDFIELD (We’re playing the pre-Chapman 2-3-5 formation by the way). Plenty of creativity on offer here, but we need a ball-winner: Rupert Baxter is first onto our team sheet each week. The lemon-yellow home strip was his idea.Then guile, Reginald Jeeves, who needs no introduction, and Psmith. Every good team has its socialist, and Psmith is our Roy McFarlane. On the bench, one off the Wenger block, Anatole, and good all-round utility player Mulliner.
ATTACK. We need goals. Who, in the Wodehouse canon, can score? Bingo Little, of course, seven times in the course of the books if I remember correctly, and skipper Bertie Wooster himself. Sir Roderick Spode eventually scores, and I’m sorry if this is a slightly off-colour basis for selection, but part of Ericksson’s appeal with his players was his power over women, so Spode is in – and alongside him his friend Fink-Nottle, but you’ll need to watch his mental state during matches. Freddie Emsworth finds himself on our left wing. On the bench, Angus McAllister, and Freddie Widgeon. Which tells you that the seam of soccer talent in the Wodehouse novels is wafer thin.
So it’s Glossop, Gregson, Travers, Baxter, Psmith, Jeeves, Little, Wooster, Spode, Fink-Nottle, Emsworth. Subs: Emsworth, Beach, Anatole, Mulliner, McAllister, Widgeon. What do you think – is soccer becoming more middle class?
I was going to do an Agatha Christie XI, but a good half of my likely picks get hanged at the end of the books. A similar injury crisis is unsettling the Dorothy L Sayers lineup, so the Wodehouse lads are still on the lookout for opponents. Anyone care to step up?