Saturday, 21 September 2013

Red or Dead David Peace 2013

A book about the impossibility to quit competitive sports. All you do in competitive sports is trying to do more than your opponent. So always doing more and more and believing that you can do it against all the odds. All that makes you good as a competitive sportsman, makes it impossible to deal with not being good enough any more or quitting. But the end is inevitable: “It comes to us all, son. And so you have to be prepared. You have to be ready, son. Because you have to decide how you will deal with it. Will it be with grace and with dignity? Or will it be with anger and with bitterness?” (Peace, 2013).

“Yes, said Bill Shankly again. But how old were you then, when you stopped playing, Bob?
Bob Paisley smiled. And Bob Paisley said, I was thirty-five. March 13, 1954, was my last game. Here at Anfield. Against Charlton Athletic. We lost as well. Three-two. And you, Bill?
The same, said Bill Shankly. Thirty-five- But I felt I could have gone on, Bob. I felt I could have gone on forever.
Bob Paisley nodded. And Bob Paisley said, We all did, Bill.
Aye, Bob. But we were young then. And we were wrong, Bob. We were all wrong. No one goes on forever, Bob. No one is immortal, said Bill Shankly.” (Peace, 2013, p.527).

The other really interesting topic is how socialism and football merge into one at Liverpool Football Club under Bill Shankly.

On the one hand Shankly in this book is of course about being extremely competitive:
“Bill knew failure could become habitual, defeat become routine. Routine and familiar. Familiar and accepted. Accepted and permanent. Permanent and imprisoning. Imprisoning and suffocating. Bill knew failure carried chains. Chains to bind you. You and your dreams.” (Peace, 2013, p.264).

But he sees the only way to win, is in absolute loyalty to each other: “The man who brings the story to me will be the man who gets the sack. I don’t care if he’s been here fifty years. He’ll be the one who goes. Because I want everyone to be loyal to each other. To the team. And to the club. So everything we do will be for Liverpool Football Club. Not for ourselves. (…) Because that loyalty makes strength. And that strength will bring success.” (Peace, 2013, p.14).

Loyalty not only within his team, but loyalty to the people, the people of the Kop: “And that is all we are interested in, winning for you. And the reason we have won is because we believe in you and you believe in us. And it’S your faith and your interest that have won us something.” (Peace, 2013, p.450).

And the will to give: “I’ll help anyone, said Bill Shankly. That is my only aim in life. To help people. Anybody I can help, I will.” (Peace, 2013, p.563). “That was all Bill Shankly wanted. To give the people what they wanted, to make the people happy.” (Peace, 2013, p.568).

“After the operation, after my cartilage. I thought, Well, I better thank Patrick Thistle. For all they have done for me. It is the least I can do. After all they have done for me. And so I helped them win the Summer cup. We beat the Hibs two-nil. At Hampden park.” (Peace, 2013, p.6).

Thus the love of work comes from the gifts of other people and is for other people:
“And giving people their money’s worth. I mean, you go there and you pay your money and so you expect effort. And so all the players have got an obligation to do that.” (Peace, 2013, p.707). “Pressure was trying to live on fifty shillings a week. (…) Pressure was not trying to win the Cup. (…) That was not pressure. (…) That was work. Your work. (…) That was your reward.” (Peace, 2013, p.130).

And this creates a circle of gifts: in society and in the team:
“So I mean, this is the secret. Get it. Give it, give an early pass. Switch the ball around. You might not seem getting very far. (…) And so all the players must understand that when they delivered a pass, you’ve only just begun. You have only just started. You just have to back uo. And you have to look to help someone. You have to make yourself available. Available for the next pass. And then you get it again.” (Peace, 2013, p.694).

“So who would you say was Liverpool’s best player today, Bill`
Bill breathed in. bill tightened his grip on the telephone. And Bill said, Liverpool! Liverpool was the best player. (…)  Liverpool Football Club depend on no single man. No individual player. Liverpool Football Club depend on each other. And when you’ve people doing that properly, when they are the right men. Well trained, well prepared. Then they cannot be beaten. And so Arsenal couldn’t beat them. Not if they played for the next ten bloody years. Because Liverpool depend on each pther. It’s collective. Everyone working for each other. It’s a kind of socialsm. Pure socialism. Everyone doing what they can for the rest.” (Peace, 2013, p.676).

“Somebody said, Football is a matter of life and death to you. I said, Listen! IT’s more important than that. And that’s true.
It’s a religion, said Sir Harold.
Bill nodded. And Bill said, It’s a religion.” (Peace, 2013, p.705).

“Yes, well, conning is not really the word. I mean, I think that psychology is a form of exaggeration. And exaggeration is a form of psychology.” (Peace, 2013, p.609).