Wodehouse XI

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?

2 Replies to “Wodehouse XI”

  1. I wasn’t aware of “A Man of Means” but Roland Bleke sounds like he should get a place.

    “True, Lady Eva had created a riot of burning emotions in his breast from the moment they met; but he should have had the sense to realize that she was not the right mate for him, even tho he might have a quarter of a million tucked away in gilt-edged securities. Their lives could not possibly mix. He was a commonplace young man with a fondness for the pleasures of the people. He liked cheap papers, picture-palaces, and Association football. Merely to think of Association football in connection with her was enough to make the folly of his conduct clear. “

  2. More than a match for the Wodehouse XI, it’s the Shakespeare Side…

    Although Shakespeare’s work owes, if anything, less to football than Wodehouse’s, it probably doesn’t hurt to have a side lined up just in case. (4-4-2)

    In GOAL the choice is obvious. It’s none other than Falstaff. Built like Fatty Foulkes and surprisingly nimble on his pins, he pops up in several plays. A reliable character with safe pair of hands.

    DEFENDERS: MacDuff confuses opponents by not being what he seems. Jack Cade fills the team socialist role. Fortinbras has a great name for a defender and Caliban is just scary. On the bench Marcus Brutus and ‘some man or other’ as ‘Wall’ to stop goals getting through.

    MIDFIELD: The key play maker is Prospero and he also is our choice as captain. He may seem bookish off the pitch but he provides inspirational leadership (and can control Caliban) on it. Petruchio’s personal life provides loads of fodder for the tabloids but he is a solid player. Iago (master of the dummy) and Ariel (great in the air) are admirable attacking wingers. On the bench is Hamlet – definite temperament problems but a clever player who can trick opponents into making mistakes.

    ATTACK: Although their relationship as strike partners is often strained, Henry V and Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy are the first choices when fit. Both are ‘passion’ players and may need to be substituted with the more creative Puck who is not always reliable but can do magic on his day.

    Team sheet:
    Falstaff, MacDuff, Cade, Fortinbras, Caliban, Propero, Petruchio, Iago, Ariel, Henry V, Percy
    Subs: Brutus, ‘Wall’, Hamlet, Puck

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