This has got cult classic written all over it. Burksey is the spoof autobiography of Tristan Stephen Burkes, a world-class footballing genius and monstrous idiot. Although a fair amount of football knowledge over the past few decades is assumed, Burksey isn’t about football per se, it’s also a broader satire on celebrity and contemporary society, from new age therapies and rehab to BritArt and fandom.
Burksey is a savage indictment of the greed of modern-day football (Burksey signs a new 110k a week contract for his new club, Sporting Meriden, on World Poverty Day) and is also very, very funny. One of the brilliant conceits is that the book has been ghostwritten by about seven people, each one presumably unable to continue working for such an ego-maniac; another is the hilarious and outrageous plugs for one of his sponsors, the Stelsat Corporation of America.
A lot of the fun of Burksey is the all-too-plausibly preposterous situations he finds himself in, such as partially sacrificing a goat and putting Ossie Ardiles into a hypnotic trance. Zelig-like, Burksey is involved in most of the major sporting and social events of the past couple of decades, of course drawing all the wrong conclusions (he’s a big fan of “Mrs T” naturally). But somehow, much as with other certain footballers who you know to be venal, money-grabbing bastards, you can’t help rooting for Burksey.
Another joy of the book is trying to spot the bits that Morfoot has made up, interweaved as it is so seamlessly with scarcely credible factual stories. I’m not entirely sure, for example, that the biscuit rota at Chelsea supposedly brought in by Glenn Hoddle is untrue. And the spoof Chris Morris programme, Brass Knuckles, in which Burksey fulminates on behalf of the children attacked by underwater bees is worthy of the great man himself.
Morfoot is obviously, despite everything, a huge footie fan and one senses a deep disgust at the way in which the game has developed. The only downside is that I won’t be able to look at Delia Smith’s ginger sponge ever again.