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The Dying of the Light

Brian Glanville
Date Published
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Len Rawlings was the greatest goal-keeper of his time, but that was long ago. In The Dying of the Light we see a great footballer in sad decline living in wretched obscurity in a Croydon semi-detached. Rejected by his son, he still lives with his wife. Although loyal, she is bewildered and ineffectual. It falls to his school-teacher daughter, Jenny, to be his support. Defying him in childhood, she now feels his plight seeing him as a man who has been cruelly exploited, encouraged to ‘live his life backwards’, a man off whose heroics other people once fed their fantasies, and who has been cast aside now he can longer fulfil them. It is Jenny too who cannot bear to see him slipping ignominiously into disgrace, misery and ultimately death, she who wants him to make one final clarion protest against ‘the dying of the light’.

Though father and daughter they could scarcely be more dissimilar, and their joint narration of the story gives it a strange polarity, an unusual tension. For Jenny, professional football is something trivial, peripheral and adolescent. For Len, it is quite simply his life.


Brian Glanville, novelist and journalist, is one of the best writers on football. He spent nearly thirty years as a football correspondent for the Sunday Times to which he is still a contributor. He has also written for The People as well as contributing obituaries of prominent players to The Guardian. Simon Barnes has said of him, ‘Football has been…

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