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I debated for quite some time about purchasing this book over another Victorian sporting book that was contained within a series. Since it was published in England, I went with this one because, quite frankly, some of the other books in the series I was considering were trite and copied from other works. Plus, I wanted a different perspective. Well, guess I should have gone with the other book! This book will make you cry, seriously, from the boredom, repetitions throughout, and the general all over disorganization of the text. It's this bad - it is like someone just typed it on their computer and bound it, complete without any editing or common sense divisions within the text.
For example, IF you purchased this book for research, it would be next to impossible to go back and find information you remembered from the reading, since the only divisions within the book are chapters only. And, they're VERY long chapters at that, complete with repetitions throughout. Resplendent with run on sentences, lack of proper punctuation, and overall lack of dividing the different sections makes this book almost entirely unusable in my research. As it is, it's like plowing through 2,000 acres of unmarked fields, trying to remember where you planted which crop.
That aside, if you do decide to forge ahead with the reading, you get a pretty decent idea of the popular sports in England during the Victorian times, and how Britain came to carry those sports to different parts of the world. Soccer is mentioned in great, great detail, and is the top sport of that time as well as current times. A few of the popular players are listed here, complete with drawings of their likenesses, as well as a few other illustrations which highlight the text. You also learn how crucial players from all over the U.K. played with English teams, especially those from Ireland and Scotland. It is less than 247 pages of reading, with an extensive list of notes in the back. Had this book undergone proper editing and division of the text, then it would be very interesting and an informative read. Instead, you get a bit of information here and there crammed in between overall generalities that have been repeated time and time again.
Again, I stress that if you are interested in this book for research, I highly suggest keeping a writing instrument and paper close by and taking notes as you go. Otherwise, you'll have an interesting time of trying to go back and find what you've read. The hardback was published in 2004 and since it's placement in the library from which this copy of mine came, it was first checked out on August 1, 2005, then not again until April 5, 2007, then October 5 of 2009, the last time on March 19, 2012. It was finally removed from circulation in 2014. That should give you some idea of the interest in this book.
Hopefully, someone will go back and give this book a proper edit in order for it to have the place in historical research it deserves. The author has spent a great deal of time researching the topic and it is quite interesting. Particularly since Victorian England was largely responsible for making sports more genteel and accepted by everyone throughout the world.