By Roger Hermiston
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But at once an official of that town angrily protested in the local paper against my writing in such a fashion about Middlesbrough. I did not tell him that I had not had Middlesbrough in mind at all. If the cap fits, I thought, let them all wear it. George Orwell didn’t visit the town as he made his way up north to Lancashire in 1936 to write The Road to Wigan Pier, his unromantic depiction of working-class life. But in Orwell’s novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Philip Ravelston, the well-off Marxist publisher, muses about the plight of Middlesbrough and imagines that ‘the unemployed huddle in frowzy beds, bread and marg and milkless tea in their bellies’.
But the crowd’s greatest passion and enmity was reserved for Arsenal, a team of remarkable talents representing wealth and privilege. They came from the soft south, from London, from the city of government where, it was imagined, all social evil was plotted and directed against places like Teesside. The players themselves enjoyed comforts and amenities such as no other club could afford to provide. They carried themselves with pride and played with a stylistic beauty They were fine footballers and had a long history of victory.
In particular, his thoughts turned back to Clough. Could the young captain’s ambition and drive provide the spark to reignite his own halting career? Or would Clough’s blunt, cocky nature disturb and disrupt his ordered playing style? As he entered his front door, he was beginning to think he knew what his decision would be. But first he had to talk it over with Elsie. Chapter 1 ‘An Infant Hercules’ Pity poor Middlesbrough. Conceived in a hurry in the late 1820s, this unadorned child of the Industrial Revolution has always suffered in comparison with the rest of its North-East family, especially its older, fairer cousins Newcastle and Durham.
Clough and Revie by Roger Hermiston