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Get Her Off the Pitch!: How Sport Took Over My Life
Get Her Off the Pitch!: How Sport Took Over My Life
by Lynne Truss
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More insight than she gives herself credit for, 18 Feb 2013
One of the editors at the Times had a quirky idea: take Lynne Truss - at this stage, before the publication of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a middle-aged female television critic who has no interest in sport - and send her to sporting events to provide articles that will add colour to the newspaper's coverage. And it worked. For four years, Truss lived as a sportswriter, with the long journeys, periods away from home and all the frustrations that comes with it. Truss writes with good humour - those who have read Eats, Shoots and Leaves will know what to expect, although the subject matter is completely different. Some of the analysis she provides about the sports that she professed to have no knowledge of or interest in is astounding and her chapter on the Ryder Cup is brilliant. That leads on to my one reservation. Truss surely over-exaggerates her lack of knowledge and interest in sport to play up the theme of her being an outsider in the world of a sportswriter. I read the claim that she didn't know that England were to host Euro 96 until her editor told her, nor that she knew who Terry Venables or Alan Shearer were, with a great deal of scepticism. It's almost as though, at times, she isn't willing to admit how much she became part of the whole sport circus that she is gently mocking. Still, it's a great and different read.


Kevin Keegan. Reluctant Messiah
Kevin Keegan. Reluctant Messiah
by Michael Hodges
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Short and shallow, 28 Jan 2013
This is a short book, just 150 pages, concentrating on Kevin Keegan's tenure as manager of Newcastle United. Its brevity means that much is brushed over, a couple of seasons are dismissed in just a page or so. Hodges presumably rushed this book to completion soon after Keegan left Newcastle to try and cash in on the events. He tries to look explain why Keegan suddenly decided to quit football (although Keegan would soon be back at the helm at Fulham, England and Man City, and even Newcastle again) and finds other examples of Keegan's fiery personality earlier in his career. However, there's little deep research here. For somebody who wants an overview of what is now a piece of football history, this is on ok read, but nothing more than that.


It's in the Blood: My Life
It's in the Blood: My Life
by Lawrence Dallaglio
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Best at start and end, 14 Jan 2013
This is one of many autobiographies produced by the 2003 World Cup winning England rugby side. In parts, this is a riveting read. The first chapters are very interesting (I never knew that Dallaglio performed in the West End as a child!) through to the Marchioness disaster, when Dallaglio's sister was killed. The end too is interesting. Dallaglio doesn't hold back in his criticism of the England set up at the 2007 World Cup, and is clear that England reached the final despite the team's management and organisation rather than because of it. The middle section, dealing with the bulk of Dallaglio's Wasps and England career, is less engaging. There isn't much in-depth analysis or comment, more of a broad sweep - I suspect that the ghostwriter was left more to his own devices here, and it doesn't seem that Dallaglio's voice comes through. Still, the start and finish rescue this book.


A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke
A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke
by Ronald Reng
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic inevitability, 7 Jan 2013
It doesn't matter that you might not have heard of Robert Enke - although he was an international goalkeeper, I didn't know anything about him before starting this book. Reng's masterful biography takes us through Enke's life until his premature death. Football is a major factor in the book, but even that is overshadowed by Reng's portrayal of Enke's battle with depression. It struck Enke twice in his life, in 2003 and 2009, and the latter affected Enke to the extent that he took his own life. There are opportunities that, with hindsight, might have made a difference. What if Enke had gone public, gone into a clinic? What if he hadn't joined Barcelona, which kick-started the 2003 episode? Would it have made a difference? It's the tragic inevitability that makes this such a powerful read.


Friday Night Lights - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
Friday Night Lights - Season 1 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ Blue Deckert
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great series based on true story, 31 Dec 2012
This had a lot to live up to: loosely based on the book and film of the same name, this version of Friday Night Lights is the fictional tale of a high school football team and their quest to win the State Championship. Just like the non-fiction book on which it is based, these athletes feel the pressure put on their shoulders by the small town that demands success. The odds are stacked against them from the first game when their star quarterback is struck down by an injury that ends his career. What follows takes us into the lives of the now ex-quarterback and his recovery, his best friend and teammate, his cheerleader girlfriend, the coach under pressure to perform, the coach's wife and child, the stand-in quarterback... Adolescent issues are explored; relationships, alcohol, drugs, racism among them. Does this fictional drama series live up to the book and film of the same name? Yes! An under-rated US import that sadly failed on British television.


The Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 Birds
The Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 Birds
by Alan Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.30

3.0 out of 5 stars For keen birders only, 18 Dec 2012
A birding couple chose to take a year out of their lives and travel the world, looking to break the world record for the number of species spotted in a calendar year. It's a good idea with a lot of potential, but for me it fell a bit flat. Although written by both Ruth Miller and Alan Davies, they take it in turn to individually write the chapters. Alan's chapters turn into a bit of a droned list ("we went here and saw this bird, then this bird, then we went here...") and the best chapters are those written by Ruth. She describes more of the events that happened as they travelled. Even so, I'd still have liked to know far more about the travel side of the story. The authors visited so many interesting countries, yet we find out so little about them other than the birds that they spotted. There's a point where the authors find themselves surrounded by a forest fire in South Africa and in serious danger, but the whole episode is glossed over in less than a page. Ruth tells us about meeting the publisher for the first time and how they discuss a book that will "bridge the birding/adventure travel gap". I'm afraid that this book does cover the birding bit well, but we don't hear anywhere near enough about the adventure travel side of their trip. And lastly, the text is far too small, 47 lines crammed onto a typical 20cm tall paperback page!


The Six Nations Rugby Miscellany
The Six Nations Rugby Miscellany
by John D. T. White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and readable, 10 Dec 2012
On the whole, this is one of the better miscellany titles out there. There's a collection of interesting facts and anecdotes about the six nations (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy). Most of them refer to the Six Nations rugby tournament, or the Five Nations or Home Nations before Italy and France joined. It also opens out to include other aspects of the international game and Rugby World Cups where relevant. It can repeat itself a couple of times, going over the same facts from slightly different directions (Barry-Jon Mather becoming the first cross-code international and Jonny Wilkinson's DVDs are two example that spring to mind), and the author overuses the word "coveted", but otherwise this is a good little read for rugby fans.


Bradford City Miscellany: Bantams Trivia, History, Facts & Stats
Bradford City Miscellany: Bantams Trivia, History, Facts & Stats
by David Markham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Bantams facts, 27 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Unlike many football miscellany titles, this doesn't leap wildly from point to point, leaving the reader floundering chronologically. Although regular subheadings split up the text every paragraph or so, this book runs in broad themes that cover a few pages each. For example, the first 40 pages cover three different themes: the formation of the club, Bradford's two season in the Premier League and some of City's most famous strikers. My only complaint is that some of the points covered by Markham aren't necessarily all that interesting and there can be a lot of results without a lot of description ("Bradford beat Arsenal, Bradford lost to Liverpool...") Otherwise, a good read for Bantams fans.


It Was Never My Ambition To Become A Hooker
It Was Never My Ambition To Become A Hooker
by Neil Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting contrast to World Cup winners, 19 Nov 2012
There has been a load of rugby autobiographies of World Cup winners, and although they are mostly a good read, they tend to be a bit samey. This is a different kind of rugby book. Neil Clark hasn't won a World Cup - he survived a traumatic childhood after his parents split up and became something of a journeyman in the south-west, fell out with Bristol after they showed him the door while injured, and eventually made it into the Premiership with Exeter Chiefs. The first half, which describes Clark's career up to promotion to the Premiership, is fantastic. The second half is a match-by-match account of Exeter's first two seasons to the Premiership, although it still has some interesting insights. It shows a different side to rugby that we don't normally hear about - Clark is the kind of player who has to struggle and fight to earn a place in his team, and an international call-up is the thing of dreams. Overall, a riveting read.


The Gloucester Rugby Miscellany (Miscellany (History Press))
The Gloucester Rugby Miscellany (Miscellany (History Press))
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, 12 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I couldn't help thinking that there must be more interesting stories surrounding Gloucester Rugby Club. Instead, we're given a rather formulaic list of facts and anecdotes that, even over 144 pages, seems to repeat itself. And I'm afraid that some of the stories just aren't that interesting. I'm sure it's a good purchase for die-hard Gloucester fans, but worth avoiding by general rugby enthusiasts.


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