Oooh! Aah! Give me Cantona

7th June 1996 at 01:00
SOCCER MAD. By Rob Childs Corgi Pounds 2.99. TEAM MATES: THE KEEPER, TEAM MATES: FOUL!, TEAM MATES: OVERLAP. By Paul Cockburn. Virgin Pounds 2.99 each. FRANCES FAIRWEATHER DEMON STRIKER!. By Derek Smith. Faber Pounds 5.99.

THE RUNTON WEREWOLF. By Ritchie Perry Hutchinson Pounds 9.99.

Soccer mad? Ask most boys aged eight to 12 and the answer will be a resounding yes. But how do you get to be any good at it? With soccer courses proliferating and children becoming reluctant to go on holiday with their parents and miss out on six hours a day chasing a ball, this must be a question dear to the young male heart.

Bang in the 50-yard box, then, is Soccer Mad from Rob Childs (Corgi Pounds 2.99), the racily-written tale of how one boy takes his Sunday team of rag-tag juveniles to face the champions in the local league. If you can't guess the result you've been following too much football and not enough children's fiction.

Team Mates, a new series by Paul Cockburn, is equally racy in style, but pitched a little older. Teenage concerns of dress, social mores and embarrassing parents mix with the burning desire of friends Chris, Nick and Russell to rise to the top in professional sport. Their various adventures do speak to young male adolescents, but the typeface is very hard on the eyes.

Frances Fairweather - Demon Striker! by Derek Smith (Faber Pounds 5.99) is a politically correct look at gender and identity through the metaphor of football. It's not a bad read, either, though many of its target audience of nine-year-olds and up might find their credulity strained by the adventures of its heroine. Frances is so desperate to play footie that she disguises herself as a boy and scores successfully in a junior league team.

Slightly more unlikely, though less inspiring for sport-crazed girls, is The Runton Werewolf by Ritchie Perry. Twelve-year old Alan is really an alien werewolf but he loves football. I can't go on. Suffice to say that boys of a similar age find this tale deeply amusing.

From an adult point of view, there is no harm in it and it has the educational element of a French exchange. Personally, I'd settle for Cantona every time.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today