Back in the early 1980s Martin Amis compared harbouring an intellectual interest in football to being a pervert. Reviewing a preposterous anthropological study of the game, he outed himself as one of a rare breed. ‘Pointy-headed football-lovers are a beleaguered crew, despised by pointy-heads and football-lovers alike … Oh, how we have to cringe and hide,’ he wrote, echoing Humbert Humbert. Yes, high-minded football-types enjoyed the social cachet of Lolita’s nympholept.
By the early 1990s Amis was done with cringing, after the epiphanic realisation at one match that those around him had the ‘body-scent of a cheese-and-onion crisp, and the eyes of pitbulls’. Yet while football is still an asylum for those seeking an outlet for their pathologies (although these days,