SHORT CHILDREN’S STORIES
HEAD THE BALL
Shane Cooney is absolutely Football Mad. He loves to play football, watch football and he even dreams about football. Every night, Shane dreams he’s the hero of the match but like all dreamers poor Shane has to wake up.
Old Hobbler doesn’t think Shane’s good enough. Recently he took Shane aside after the game and told him that he’d seen grannies, cross-eyed cats, and one-legged-nuns with better headers than Shane!
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Of course, Shane was wondering where old Hobbler saw one-legged nuns playing football but he didn’t dare ask him.
After what old Hobbler said all the lads laughed at poor Shane. He tries to get his parents to help him but all his dad wants to do is read his books in peace while dunking ginger biscuits in his tea.
His mum’s too busy too and after working all day all she wants to do is stretch herself into strange and bendy yoga shapes.
Determined Shane is forced to take drastic action – strike action, but even that doesn’t get his parents out of the house and into the garden.
Then one day Shane’s granddad comes to visit and starts to teach Shane all about tactical negotiation…can Shane learn some new tactics to get his busy parents to play football with him?
‘Football Mad’ is from a series of children’s stories that was originally broadcast on Ireland’s National radio station: RTE Radio One, as part of a series called Fiction Fifteen. The story takes place in Ireland, which is also where I happen to live.
I really enjoyed writing for Fiction Fifteen. It was challenging to fit the stories to the time slot but it was also fun and I loved every minute of it. But when I was asked to write a football story I was a little bit worried. I am not a football fan!
Still I am from Liverpool and my family love football so I had no shortage of consultants. The funny thing was it turned out to be one of the stories I enjoyed writing the most.
I particularly love writing dialogue and this is one of those stories where the main character does most of the talking. There are times when I get to a certain stage with a character where I can almost hear them talk.
I have found that until I make a character talk I don’t really know them, even though I invented them and regardless of how long I have spent thinking about them and developing them. Sometimes I seem to find the character’s ‘voice’ straight away, other times it can take a while. It’s all practice, writing, writing and more writing.
WRITING THE STORY
When my writing is going really well it sometimes feels like the characters create their own stories and I just write them down. Football Mad was one of those.
Once I ‘got’ Shane’s voice, the story flowed for me As a character he was great fun to work with. In fact writing a football story turned out to be a lot of fun too.
I loved finding all the voices of the characters in Football Mad, they seemed to come easily and I think it was because the themes were so readily identifiable.
Every kid experiences the frustration of having nobody to play with and every parent finds themselves not always wanting to play with their kids – parents aren’t perfect.
CHILDREN’S STORIES FOR ALL THE FAMILY
The great thing about this story and my other radio stories is that adults enjoy them as well. In fact I got a lot of feedback from adults. Mostly they had heard the stories in their cars, which is where most radio is heard.
At the time the stories were broadcast I was lecturing in a college and I remember going in one Monday to find the caretaker waiting for me. He said he had been listening to Football Mad on the radio and somebody had called to the door and made him miss the ending. He wanted to know ‘what happened next.’ This is surely the greatest compliment a writer can receive!
I hope you enjoy reading this story much as I enjoyed writing it.