‘Spit Nolan’ by Bill Naughton

The story ‘Spit Nolan’ comes from a dog-eared, Puffin collection, ‘The Goalkeeper’s Revenge and other stories’ by Bill Naughton, that I’ve had since I was eight. This collection of deftly crafted stories combines a Northern English Maupassant vibe with a lyrical touch of Laurie Lee, unsentimentally and humorously depicting boys playing, fighting, living and dying, characters like Skinny Nancy and Waldo the lion-tamer. Amongst tales about eating seventeen oranges and a mam obsessed by reading and writing, is ‘Spit Nolan’, a story about a thin, lad with one lung who is a champion trolley-rider, and the sacred day he rides his final race. 

From The Goalkeeper’s Revenge and Other Stories, Harrap, 1961