To celebrate the World Cup 2010, Priestley’s football delights:
This image shows young Jack Priestley, top row, third from left. In Delight (1949), Priestley remembered how in his boyhood they played football all day during the holidays. “I would hear the thud-thud-thud of the ball, a sound unlike any other, and delight would rise in my heart”. Even hearing the sound now, as a “heavy ageing man”, he would long to join in. Most of the boys he grew up with joined the Bradford Pals and were wiped out on the Somme in 1916.
Priestley’s most famous piece of writing about football is in the first chapter of The Good Companions, where we are introduced to the character Jess Oakroyd as he makes his way home from a match at “Bruddersford United”, in a “tide of cloth caps”. Priestley explains why going to the match remains so popular even in a town (based on Bradford) struggling with the decline of the wool trade: “To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink. For a shilling the Bruddersford United AFC offered you Conflict and Art”.
Both Delight and The Good Companions are currently in print, published by Great Northern.