Did you know that footballs have a language? No? Well, neither did I but it’s certainly so in this droll story produced by the designer duo Jan Le Witt and George Him and actually a reproduction of the original 1939 edition.
The hero of the tale, for that he surely is, utters ‘Oufff’, which translates as ‘Go easy’, and ‘Pumppff, fumffpp’ – ‘Now go on without me, gentleman, I won’t have this treatment any longer …’ and thus begins his protest; for the next thing that transpires is that said ball sits down on a passing cloud and refuses to further participate in the all-important Goalbridge versus Kickford annual Silver Cup soccer match.
Now, I have to admit to being in fits of giggles long before the final whistle is blown; yes a match does eventually take place but not between the original teams. No, after a whole lot of shenanigans and the determinedly heroic efforts of pretty nearly everyone in the town – footballers and townsfolk alike – to bring the ball down to the pitch to continue the game, it’s left to the town’s children to save both the match and, the day.
This has a longer than usual text for a picture book; indeed it’s almost an illustrated story although the full page colour illustrations and the smaller ones – some in black and white, others in colour, and the margin musings are truly splendid. The whole thing would make a great film too I think. Almost anyone from around six would enjoy the humour of the story, which is as likely to appeal to adults as children, particularly those with a penchant for soccer. It certainly appealed strongly to me and I’m definitely no soccer fan.