Showing posts from March, 2010

A darker side to the Trautmann legend

Bert Trautmann's place in Manchester City folklore was secured on May 8th, 1956, when an x-ray revealed that he had played the final 17 minutes of City's 3-1 victory over Birmingham in the FA Cup final at Wembley three days earlier with a broken bone in his neck. The City goalkeeper had suffered the injury diving at the feet of the Birmingham inside left, Peter Murphy, yet made several saves in the minutes that followed. For the former German paratrooper, who had earned five military medals fighting for the enemy in World War Two, it was the moment that completed a journey to acceptance that had seemed impossible when 20,000 attended a demonstration opposing City's decision to sign him in 1949. His life story was told by Alan Rowlands in a biography first published in 1990 and updated in 2005. Rowlands drew attention to Trautmann's involvement with the Hitler Youth movement and his evident commitment to Germany's cause but somehow managed not to diminish his s

Can the 2010 World Cup deliver classic reads?

Nothing stirs a football writer's typing fingers quite like a World Cup and with 73 days to go before the 2010 finals kick off in Johannesburg if one thing is certain it is that the trees felled to supply the paper required by the publishing industry would cover many more football pitches than will be needed to play the month-long tournament. Quantity, therefore, is guaranteed. Quality, of course, is another matter. The Sports Bookshelf will attempt to provide some guidance as to which books might have a shelf life beyond the final on July 11th. At least half a dozen titles will hit the book shops on April 1st, including the  2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Official Book , edited by the former World Soccer magazine editor, Keir Radnedge. Gabrielle Marcotti's authoritative study of England's head coach, first published as Capello: Portrait of a Winner, is repackaged by Bantam Books as Capello: The Man Behind England's World Cup Dream And Brian Glanville's

A history of Manchester United in green and gold

It is hard to imagine that anyone has a wider knowledge of West Ham than Brian Belton, born and brought up within five minutes of the Boleyn Ground and the author of more than a dozen books on the East End club. But the 54-year-old college lecturer and youth worker continues to demonstrate interests beyond the claret and blue and the green and gold currently favoured by many Manchester United supporters is at the heart of his latest book, published today. Red Dawn - Manchester United, in the beginning: From Newton Heath: 1  (Pennant Books) is an account of the beginnings of Manchester United as Newton Heath FC, whose green and gold colours have been symbolic of the protest against United's American owners, the Glazer family. Belton's history charts the club's first three decades after Newton Heath FC was formed as a works team at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot in what is now an urban area of Greater Manchester, around three miles north east of the city centr

Brearley's classic work still relevant

It is 25 years since former England cricket captain Mike Brearley sought to explain what he knew about team leadership in his acclaimed work, the Art Of Captaincy. The book was hailed as a tour de force from the man who led England to their breathtaking triumph in the Ashes series of 1981, having taken over the captaincy from Ian Botham. The game has evolved in some ways beyond recognition since that glorious summer.  Brearley, meanwhile, has gone on to become a highly respected psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, but his thoughts on cricket still command enormous respect. So much so, in fact, that Marcus Trescothick's preparations for his first season as Somerset's captain have included a consultation with Brearley. Former England opening batsman Trescothick was only five in 1981 but believes there is still much he can learn from 67-year-old Brearley, who lost only four of his 31 matches as England skipper. "Everyone talks about Brearley when he was captain of E

Tiger tales spark race to print

Tiger Woods' upcoming return to the golf course will be good news for authors Steve Helling and Robert Lusetich, who have been racing neck and neck to have their tales of the world number one's fall from grace hit the book shops. So far, it seems that Helling, a Florida-based writer for People Magazine, might get to tee off first, although only by a matter of days. Helling's Tiger: The Real Story (Da Capo Press) reckons to provide "a never-before-seen portrait" of the troubled star, drawn from interviews with "intimate sources, many speaking out for the first time". Lusetich, a senior columnist for who reported on Woods throughout 2009, describes how the player "built a public persona at odds with his private life" in his account, Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season (Simon and Schuster). The Helling version is due out on May 20th, a week ahead of Lusetich's. Click on the links to pre-

Tennis star's battle against depression

After Andre Agassi's confession that he hated tennis and took crystal meth at a low point in his life, another former tennis star is about to reveal that he battled with depression through much of his career. Cliff Richey, who beat Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall among others to become the sport's first Grand Prix world champion in 1970, was the bad boy of tennis long before John McEnroe came along, his talent on the court often sullied by temper tantrums and general boorishness. In Acing Depression, the Texan -- brother of one-time Australian and French Open champion Nancy Richey -- describes how his behaviour was a mask behind which he waged a lonely struggle against psychological problems that would sometimes drive him to black out the windows of his house and spend whole days in bed, crying. Now 64, Richey's condition is under control and he devotes much energy to raising awareness of mental health issues. His book contributes to his campaign by describing his persona

Fresh fallout from The Damned United

The perils of blending fact with fiction have been exposed again after a second footballer won redress over his depiction in The Damned United. According to Rick Broadbent in The Times , the former Tottenham Hotspur icon, Dave Mackay, has reached a settlement with the producers of the film based on David Peace's novel.  It was suggested in the screen version that the Scotland international, now 75, broke ranks with protesting players to accept an offer to become manager when Brian Clough resigned as Derby County boss in 1973. In fact, while Mackay did succeed Clough in the Derby manager's chair, he had left the Baseball Ground in 1971 to begin a managerial career elsewhere. The former Leeds player, Johnny Giles, won an earlier libel action against the publishers of The Damned United over his portrayal as a Machiavellian plotter in the Elland Road dressing room. Mackay's own story, The Real Mackay, was published in paperback in 2005. The Real Mackay: The Dave Macka

Hoy sets sights on a new chapter

Olympic cycling giant Sir Chris Hoy, whose autobiography was shortlisted in the Sports Book of the Year awards, will need to update his story if he achieves his ambitious targets for this week's World Track Cycling Championships in Copenhagen. The Scot, whose 34th birthday falls on March 23rd -- the eve of the championships -- has his eyes on a treble in the Danish capital, aiming for gold in the individual sprint, team sprint and keirin — his three gold medal events at the Beijing Olympics. Success would not make him the first man to leave a world championships with three track golds -- but no one has landed titles in those three disciplines at the same games.  With nine world titles to his name already, Hoy will not find many doubting he can do it. The event tests his mettle in another sense.  It is his first major championships since the 2008 Olympics following the hip injury that kept him out of last year's world track event.  What's more, it was at the Copenhage

Racing giants fail to follow Powell's script

With a book on the epic horse racing rivalry of Denman and Kauto Star due for publication in August, the Cheltenham Gold Cup did not follow the script that author Jonathan Powell had in mind when Kauto Star fell and Denman found himself outrun by Imperial Commander. We can probably discount any thoughts that the two great stable companions might now be retired, however, even if the blue riband of jump racing has passed to another. Kauto Star's frightening nosedive appears to have left no lasting damage and though he will be 11 years old by the time the 2011 Cheltenham Festival comes around, jockey Ruby Walsh sees no reason why he should not be backed to regain the Gold Cup for a second time. Trainer Paul Nicholls observed that "we all get a bit slower" with the passing years but Walsh said: "He got knocked down before and stood up again. Why shouldn't he be back at Cheltenham next year?" Denman, meanwhile, may try to become only the third horse in hi

Just when you thought it had all been said...

...along comes another collection of memories inspired by the Brian Clough story, this time from the man who was to accompany Clough and Peter Taylor throughout their managerial partnership. Maurice Edwards, now a sprightly 83, joined the duo when they teamed up for the first time at Hartlepool in 1965 and went on to serve as their chief scout at both Derby County and Nottingham Forest. As a trusted ally, not only was he privy to much of what took place behind the scenes both in good times and bad, he was often the central figure, during an era without agents, in the facilitating of major transfer deals. Until now he has kept his immense fund of stories largely to himself, but after the interest generated by the David Peace novelisation, The Damned Utd , and Duncan Hamilton's Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough , he decided it was time to tell his tale, if only to set the record straight on parts of the Clough-Taylor legend he felt had not been properl

Rooney gets the Sweeney treatment

Readers disappointed with Wayne Rooney's first 'official' biography may be drawn to the unauthorised account of the life so far of England's prospective World Cup hero due to hit the bookstands in May. Rooney's Gold, written by award-winning but controversial investigative journalist John Sweeney, promises to cut to the chase with somewhat less restraint than one suspects Hunter Davies could allow himself when  Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far  (HarperSport) appeared in 2006. Sweeney, whose back catalogue includes works on the despotic Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and Britain's arms trade with Iraq, gained notoriety in 2007 for his on-screen shouting match with Church of Scientology representative Tommy Davis, which was aired on the BBC's Panorama programme. His delving into Rooney's Liverpool upbringing and what now has to pass for a 'private' life was due to have been published in the same year, under the Random House imprint Centur

More honours for Hamilton's Harold Larwood book

Duncan Hamilton has added a top prize at the British Sports Book Awards to his William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for his brilliant study of cricketer Harold Larwood (Quercus). His authorised life story of the England fast bowler notorious for his role in the Bodyline tour of 1932-33 was named 'best biography' at a dinner at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London. Hamilton, who spent 32 years as a journalist in Nottingham and Leeds, won wider recognition two years ago with Provided You Don't Kiss Me, his portrait of Brian Clough, which also won the William Hill prize. Inspired by a fascination he can trace back to his days growing up in a Nottinghamshire mining community, where Larwood was a revered figure, Hamilton spent six weeks in Australia in his researching of Larwood's story, being granted access to family archives by the player's daughters. The work that resulted has been compared favourably with Gideon Haigh's life of the Austra

Who won what at the British Sports Book Awards

Here is the full roll call of winners and the shortlists for each category: Best Autobiography:  Winner -- Open: An Autobiography  by Andre Agassi (HarperCollins) Shortlisted: Chris Hoy: the Autobiography  (HarperCollins),  Just For Kicks: The Autobiography  by Kenny Logan (Headline), Michael Vaughan: Time to Declare - My Autobiography  (Hodder & Stoughton), Lucky Break  by Paul Nichols (Orion), Ben Ainslie: Close to the Wind - Autobiography of Britain's Greatest Olympic Sailor  (Yellow Jersey). Best biography:  Winner -- Harold Larwood  by Duncan Hamilton (Quercus) Shortlisted: Olympic Gangster: The Legend of Jose Beyaert - Cycling Champion, Fortune Hunter and Outlaw by Matt Rendell (Mainstream), Born to Run: The Rise of Ultra-running and the Super-athlete Tribe  by Chris McDougall (Profile Books), The Last Champion: The Life of Fred Perry by Jon Henderson  (Yellow Jersey), Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Garden, and the Golden Age of Boxing  by Kevin Mitchell (Yel