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Fever Pitch, Schmever Pitch
By Apollo Latham
When I'm not moaning about Watford only being four points clear at the top of the table, there's nothing I like better than a good read of some classic literature. Still, I've always felt there's something missing. Football, namely. After all, would Shakespeare really have written about Danish princes if there had been Sky Sports in the Elizabethan era? Would Homer really have bothered with the Trojan War had he known of the Herts Senior Cup? No, the classics need to move with the times, and be about football and nothing but.

To this end I've exhumed (or asked nicely, where appropriate) four leading writers to re-write their works and make them more relevant to "The Beautiful Game". Here are brief synopses of the results.

Moby Dick (or the Devon White Whale) : Herman Melville

"Call me Darren". So begins this rip-roaring tale of one man's single-minded pursuit of the leviathan that will bring him glory, narrated by a young full-back. Captain Roeder is a mad despotic tyrant, who's searching for the 6ft striker whose agent bit off his leg in a previous transfer negotiation. At the end, Roeder gets his man, but the club goes down, taking everyone with it. This book works as an allegory, a tribute to determination, and gives a brilliant description of transfer dealings at a mid-size first division club in exacting and tedious detail. By the time you've read it you'll feel like you've sat through three Portsmouth away games back-to-back.

Waiting for Graham : Samuel Beckett

Memorably described as the play where "Nothing happens. Twice.", this play was clearly inspired by many Watford matches of the mid-90s. Two fans stand on a football terrace. It turns out they are waiting for Graham, who never turns up. It becomes clear to the audience that Graham is not likely to turn up, nor do they know what to do if he did, or why they are waiting, and the characters are stuck in an endless cycle of trying to find a way to stave off boredom each day while waiting, never trying to seek their own destiny nor learning the lessons of the past.

Turnippa : Daphne Du Maurier

On a scouting mission in Europe, Miss Bassett meets the millionaire Elton de John and they are married. Bassett is from a humble background in south London, though, and finds it difficult to adjust to life as Lady of the House. The servants don't take to her, particularly Mrs Blisset, the chilling housekeeper who has been there for donkey's years and seems to have a better idea of how to run things. With Elton away for much of the time, Bassett finds it difficult to assert herself. Bassett's sense of unease is heightened by the difficulty of living in the shadow of Elton's previous wife, the much loved and glamorous Turnippa, with whom Bassett is continually being unfavourably compared.

Gullitus Caesar : William Shakespeare

Caesar, cold and aloof, is the great man at the height of his power, brought down by hubris. Cassius Bates with his "lean and hungry look" recruits Brutus Vialli, "the noblest Roman of them all", into his conspiracy to assassinate Caesar on the Ides of February. Gullitus suspects something but his comment "let me have men around me that are gross" is misunderstood by Cassius, who is worried about his wage-bill. He also makes the mistake of thinking Brutus will be pacified by his Porsche. Brutus's success is short-lived though as Mark Anthony Hughes comes to bury Gullit, not to praise him, but makes a brilliant inspiring speech at the subsequent press-conference, unleashing indignation and causing widespread anarchy with a view to his own take-over. That of course also goes pear-shaped when he starts getting involved with Manchester girl band Cleopatra, but that's one for the sequel.