Ed#477: Dumbledore kicks on

6 February 2015 Alan Attwood

Ed#477: Dumbledore kicks on

Alan Attwood, Ed#477, February 2015

I thought of the life cycle of this magazine last month, on the night Australia’s Socceroos played China in the Asian Cup tournament. At halftime the score was 0-0 and the home team was not looking good, possibly facing a premature exit. It struck me that it was, perhaps, a good thing that our Ed#475, featuring football, was about to be replaced on the streets by our Eddie Izzard magazine. Then, of course, veteran player Tim Cahill hit a purple patch, scoring two impressive goals to clinch victory. Team coach Ange Postecoglou showed rare emotion as well as a gleaming smile. As both Cahill and the coach were on our cover, we were suddenly looking good. Then Eddie took over, although I did suggest to some vendors that they might want to consider hanging on to copies of the football edition as the Socceroos made their run to the final, which, of course, they won.

Getting the timing right is always a crucial consideration when picking a cover subject. Veteran actor Michael Gambon – Sir Michael Gambon, to give him his title (a vexed issue for Australian PM Tony Abbott recently) – is featured in this edition because a new TV series in which he stars begins this month. But sometimes a more intriguing story can be found away from the main focus of attention. As well as a story about the Asian Cup, Ed#475 also had an ad for The Big Issue’s Street Football Festival, a successful event that wound up in Sydney on 20 January, with a team from the ACT triumphing over Parramatta in the local championships. That final was played in good spirit, around 1000 players took part in the six-day event, and anyone who wandered near the Circular Quay venue while it was on would have been impressed by the positive vibe. Big Issue football has always been more about participation than performance. While the Socceroos would have been deemed to have failed had they lost that tight game against China, or subsequently not reached the final, the focus in street football is on teamwork, sportsmanship and commitment. Being part of a team and getting some structure in life through training sessions helps individuals boost their self-esteem and gain a sense of purpose. In top-level sport the focus is too much on success. Hence the difference in expressions and body-language between winners and losers at the Asian Cup, and recently concluded Australian Open tennis championships. But winning really isn’t everything. Competitors in those prestigious events may not believe it, but those involved with the Street Football Festival do.

Is Michael Gambon a round-ball fan? No idea. His fellow actor Bill Nighy certainly is: in an article about him in our Christmas edition (#473) he confessed to being “crazy about football” and described Cristiano Ronaldo (the Real Madrid star) as a genius. Nighy is an Englishman; Gambon proudly Irish, though he has lived and worked in England for most of his life. He is one of those actors whose face and voice may be more readily recognised than his name. In our story (from The Big Issue UK), he explains how playing Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films has brought him a legion of enthusiastic young fans: he seems delighted by this. Like many, I first became aware of him in The Singing Detective on TV in the mid-1980s. In that series, written by Dennis Potter (a different kind of genius to Ronaldo), Gambon played a character who was bedridden in hospital due to debilitating psoriasis.
So convincing was his acting – and the work of the make-up team – that, when I’ve seen him ever since then, I’ve had to fight the urge to say: “Ah, his skin has cleared up.” Seems he’s doing fine – at 74. Still kicking goals, in his own way.

» Alan Attwood is Editor of The Big Issue.

This article appeared in Ed#477 of The Big Issue magazine.