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Why is it so hard to fictionalise sport?

I've written several novels about athletes—writing about winning and losing is the most difficult part

Liverpool winning the European Cup on a more dramatic night (Photo: Steve Hale/LFC)

At the end of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, the robber Macheath stands ready to be hanged. He is guilty as charged, but at the last minute his reprieve arrives on horseback, a pardon from the king. “So that at least in the opera we can witness,” runs the commentary, “mercy, for once, take priority over justice.”

We see these reprieves in sports all the time. Manchester United used to make a habit of them—including those two injury-time…

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