When originally published this was described as an exceptional first novel because the characters are concerned with expressing themselves in physical rather than emotional or intellectual terms. The world in which the story is set is that of professional Rugby League in a Norther English industrial city, and spans several years in the life of narrator Arthur Machin.
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The north of England in the 1950s, Arthur (not that other great Northern bellower given to us by Alan Sillitoe) wants out of the flat on your back, working yourself to death, working class lifestyle that he was born in to and the only way he can see to escape is through excelling at sport. He’s got some physicality going for him and he’s gonna make the most of it by running out for the local professional Rugby League team.
Whilst there are some excellently written sporting sequences, they are few