Back when the World Cup was in those exciting and unpredictable first rounds, we were playing away at Penguin's imaginary books World Cup, where an England with JK Rowling, George Orwell and Agatha Christie in attack and the likes of Shakespeare and Dickens in the midfield could possibly – possibly – have had a chance to win something.
The UK imprint imagined matches and footballing incidents on Twitter, and we joined in the fun, asking for your all-time favourite literary teams. Now that the actual competition is coming to an end, here are our top five writers' XIs.
TimFootman offered an all-nationalities, all-time XI with Albert Camus as goalkeeper (because – "duh" – the French author played as a goalie while studying at the University of Algeria). He chose a pretty hard-core defence (Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Samuel Richardson and Vikram Seth) "because you need big guys at the back", went for a self-explanatory "middlebrowfield" with John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett and Elizabeth Gaskell, and chose Bret Easton Ellis, Will Self and DBC Pierre in attack because, "as Mr Suárez proved, it's the scary, unpredictable, slightly bonkers ones who get results." No comment.Photograph: Toby Moses
tagomagoman gave an extensive justification for this killer and eclectic XI, managed by "respected and innovative coach with a steely heart of darkness" Joseph Conrad. Some of our favourite picks:
James Joyce (centre-back): "The ultimate cultured centre-back famously left his native Ireland to learn his trade on the continent. It is a rare forward who can find a way past his impenetrable prose."
Cormac McCarthy (central midfield): "This tough tackling, no nonsense player patrols the border country between midfield and defence. If you thought the Comanche attack in Blood Meridian was brutal you should see what he does to a midfield runner who has the temerity to approach his territory."
F Scott Fitzgerald (central midfield): "Seen by some as a luxury player too keen to sit back and admire his own beautiful passes. Sometimes seems more concerned with his celebrity lifestyle with his glamorous wife than his career. But when he puts his mind to it, boy can he play. With the steely McCarthy beside him they form a formidable midfield."
Photograph: Toby Moses
William Burroughs (right midfield): "Old snake hips is one of the most feared wingers in the game. Has suffered with 'refuelling' issues in the past, but as long as he receives his 'vitamin supplement' before the game is a reliable asset. Famous for terrorising full-backs with his notorious cut-up technique that leaves them gasping for comprehension. Should score more goals, but suffers from a wayward shot."
neophil33 disagreed with Penguin's version of the French team and offered the following instead (with Anatole France, François Rabelais, Alphonse Daudet, Marguerite Duras, Louis Aragon, François Mauriac as subs), which sparked quite a debate. "That midfield could be a bit flaky", said shinerbock. "I'd have Proust among the subs – just in case you needed to bring someone on to run down the clock", offered AnotherBe. shinerbock jumped in again: "You can't have Rimbaud and Verlaine in the same team together. Even on opposite wings. There's no discipline there. Bring them on as 'impact subs', when Baudelaire's been sent off for showing off." Etcetera.Photograph: Toby Moses
"At last, a competition Ireland will dominate", ventured theundertone. We had as many as four different Irish teams suggested – here's one by SanPaolo: from Patrick Kavanagh ("weird loner, ideal keeper") to Oscar Wilde ("big target man, ex-boxer, great turn – of phrase) and Samuel Beckett ("mercurial forward, famously not many kicks") on the attack and of course Joyce at the midfield ("creative, but tendency to overelaborate"). Although as Sunburst said, perhaps their star player would suffice: "between 11 best English novelists of the 20th century and one chapter of Ulysses, I'd confidently put my money on the latter."Photograph: Toby Moses
And finally, how irresistible is this team from Ancient Rome suggested by Serdal:
Photograph: Toby Moses
Cicero (goalkeeper): "Reliable, can do everything, great reflexes, huge belief in his own abilities, can be a show-off, never to blame in his own mind."
Caesar (left-back): "Lean, efficient, fast, unfussy, able to influence referees with his propagandistic style."
Ovid (left midfield): "Great work-rate, though defensively suspect, the side's greatest technique and pacey as hell, should complement Caesar's qualities."
Virgil (central midfield): "Used to be a slim, tricky player, in his later days a player of gravity but lots of emotions, able to mix the rough and the magical."
There were so many other brilliant line-ups that we had to leave out – do take a look at the delightful thread, which included discussion of referees and even a wink to our own sports writers. And, as always, add your own or tell us what we’ve missed in the comments below. But let's close with a team from Magnusson which he promises will be "precise, efficient and beautiful in its simplicity":Photograph: Toby Moses