Going Barmy, by Paul Winslow
Sunday 24 February 2013
With the possible exception of Geoffrey Boycott, nothing seems to polarise opinion among English cricket supporters quite like the Barmy Army.
Are they a bunch of beer-sodden buffoons, or fervent, knowledgeable fans who travel far and wide to cheer on an appreciative England team? Both, according to this insiders' account from a self-confessed "travel junkie, beer lover and cricket addict", who has also worked for the somewhat rickety business side of the Army.
While he glories unashamedly in the massive piss-ups the Army enjoy, he also points out the positives of their presence, such as boosting income and attendances in the other Test-playing nations and lifting the spirits of the England players, who almost unanimously welcome their presence and are not above joining in their liquid celebrations.
Graeme Swann in the foreword writes: "Getting your own Barmy Army song is a badge of honour… They are the very heartbeat of our team abroad. And I love them for it."
They have generally been more honoured abroad – the Aussie press coined their nickname on the 1995-96 tour, despite the Army's version of Waltzing Matilda which started "I shagged Matilda, I shagged Matilda". The songs have got wittier, and with Billy the Trumpet (a postgraduate of the Royal Academy of Music) leading the revels, they seem here to stay.
This sparky memoir may not convert many doubters, but it's no less diverting for that.
Published in paperback by SportsBooks, £8.99
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Fifty Shades of Grey movie: New picture of Anastasia Steele unveiled
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Cilla, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith embodies the young singer perfectly
Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode
Tyler, The Creator says having new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke