Showing posts from March, 2012

Extraordinary story of Merckx the machine is subject of fascinating new biography

SPORTS BOOK OF THE WEEK Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike , by William Fotheringham Published by: Yellow Jersey WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Lance Armstrong may have won more Tours de France than Eddy Merckx -- seven against five -- but consider this: between 1961 and 1978, the Belgian rider known as the Cannibal won 525 races, including the Giro d’Italia four times and and three world championships, in addition to his four straight Tour de France wins between 1969 and 1972, with another in 1974. No cyclist has ever won more races in a career, which set Merckx apart from the rest in some minds as verging on mad. Armstrong would save himself for the big events, basing his season on being at his peak at the right moments.  Merckx seemed to want to be at his peak every time he rode. He had an addiction to winning, so consuming that at the height of his powers he won the equivalent of a race every week for six years.  In his most prolific season, he won 54 races, a total never surpassed.  He hold

Relive the Festival thrills with the stars of Cheltenham's jump racing spectacular

Horse Racing Books for the Cheltenham Festival His great rivalry with Denman might have ended with the retirement of his stablemate in December but the Kauto Star story continues and might just have another glorious chapter still to be told if he can add a third Cheltenham Gold Cup to his record five King George VI Chase victories this week. In the meantime, there is plenty to read about the story so far among The Sports Bookshelf’s selection of horse racing books for the jump racing enthusiast. It is no surprise to see the paperback version of Kauto Star jockey Ruby Walsh's autobiography in the shops in time for the Cheltenham Festival. The Irishman is the master of the perfectly-timed finish, after all, and his tally of 32 winners at the Festival is unsurpassed.   Ruby: The Autobiography , written with the help of Irish journalist Malachy Clerkin, is published by Orion . As well as winning all four of the ‘Grand Nationals‘ -- the Scottish, Irish and Welsh versions as well

Sweeping history of how commercialism and greed swallowed the sporting ideal

SPORTS BOOK OF THE WEEK The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World   by Mihir Bose Published by: Constable What’s it about? In seeking to answer the question of how sport did help shape the modern world, the author has produced a sweeping history of sport in the modern world from its idealistic beginnings to the massively commercial present. It is particularly relevant in an Olympic year, particularly in the year of an Olympics in Britain, since Bose begins his exploration of the sporting spirit with the advance of the modern Olympic movement as a phenomenon rooted in what its acknowledged founder, Pierre de Coubertin, cherished as an English virtue. De Coubertin, a French nobleman, drew his inspiration from an English novel, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, a book that paid homage to Rugby School and its headmaster, Thomas Arnold, whose beliefs in manliness and gentlemanly conduct and the health benefits of an outdoor life were set in a sporting context. Coubertin used t

New award as Fever Pitch hits 20

The 2012 British Sports Book Awards will include three new categories to mark the 10th anniversary of the annual prize. One of these -- under the title ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing’ -- is being launched with the winner decided already.  Amazingly, it is 20 years since Nick Hornby’s groundbreaking Fever Pitch first appeared on the shelves and the BSBA organisers felt there was no author more deserving of the inaugural award. David Willis, chairman of the BSBA in 2012, said: "The 10th anniversary of the British Sports Book Awards in 2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, which altered perceptions about the value and importance of sport in relationships and within society as a whole." Hornby has already spoken of his honour at being chosen as the first winner of the new prize. He said: "When you write a book, you can only really hope that people read it and like it, and that it stays around for as long as possible. F

Tied Up With Notts, by Colin Slater: Half a century of Notts County from the man who has seen it all and told the tale

SPORTS BOOK OF THE WEEK Tied Up With Notts   by Colin Slater Published by: Reid Publishing WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Few football stories in the last couple of years have been quite so bizarre or riveting as the tale of Notts County, Sven-Goran Eriksson and the Middle Eastern millions that never were. And few individuals have been quite so well placed to describe it all as Colin Slater , the veteran BBC Radio Nottingham journalist who has been the station’s Notts County man ever since it was launched, some 44 years ago. In fact, Slater’s association with Notts goes back even further. As a football reporter with the long-defunct Nottingham Evening News, he took his seat in the press box at Meadow Lane for the first time in August 1959.  There began a professional and personal relationship with the world’s oldest football league club that now spans 53 years, more than a third of its history. No one, therefore, is better qualified to put in perspective not just the squalid, r