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on 10 August 2006
A compelling subject, sympathetically handled, well written, with generally acceptable judgements made by the author when in speculative mode. Collins brings to life a remarkable figure, supported by what appears to be sound research. It is a pity there is no bibliography to illustrate how wide ranging the research is and virtually no acknowledgements of any quotes, which tends to lighten the authority of the work. Collins has some interesting details about Woosnam's early life, which makes the material on his later life appear much thinner. Understandably, in a book about a sporting hero, the bulk of the work is devoted to his career in a range of competitive sports, but Woosnam lived for 40 more years after he retired and these merit only a chapter.

The book is written with a good sense of perspective - Collins is rightly impressed by Woosnam but is not blinkered into believing him to be above criticism. Collins hints at the conflict between his commitments to a life devoted to sport and the responsibilities of fatherhood - and sport clearly won.

Throughout this book, you get the impression that Max Woosnam is a sporting hero to Collins himself - a source of fascination and pleasure for the author, who handles Max with loving care.

One area that is not adequately covered is the mystery that the book's full title alludes to - why is the story of Maxwell Woosnam, arguably Britain's Greatest Sportsman, so unknown. Collins' personal stab at an answer goes little further than 'self-effacing modesty'. There is more work to be done here to explain why this Sporting Genius has had to wait so long to be re-discovered, having been so carelessly forgotten by so many sports that he graced.

A splendid book that left me wanting to know more about an all-round sporting hero with feet of gold.
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on 5 July 2015
Coming from a long line of generations of frustrated Manchester City supporters I found this an interesting read. I was brought up in Manchester very near to Crossley Brothers, Woosnam's supposed employers. Over the years my father related stories about this almost mystical figure who always played cccompanied by his silk handkerchief. I was aware that he was a man of many parts but this book revealed just how little I knew. It is easy to read and the illustrations are adequate. The picture of him addressing the crowd at Maine Road in 1958 has me wondering as to whom the opponents must have been because I can't imagine not having been present.
It was also interesting to come across the name of Eli Fletcher, my father used to often mention him too but I've never heard anyone else utter his name.
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on 6 July 2006
This remarkable story is finally given the attention it has long warranted. In this thorough and well researched book, the author paints a vivid portrait of one of the most extraordinary characters in English sporting history. England football captain; Wimbledon champion; Olympic gold medallist -- the list of accomplishments is only a glimpse of the larger picture. The wondrous age of amateurism is brought evocatively to life and the stark comparison with contemporary sport is unavoidable. A smashing book.
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on 18 July 2006
A deightfully written and meticulously researched book, detailing the extraordinary life of an amazing man.

Max Woosnam should never have been allowed to be forgotten, and in this wonderful book, Mick Collins ensures he is returned to the position he should long have held. A first class piece of research, and told in a delicate and attractive manner, with the turn of phrase every bit as good as the work which clearly went into uncovering Woosnam's life once more.

In addition to this, the book is quite beautifully designed. A real treat for a sports lover, or indeed anyone with an interest in a life lived to its fullest.

A fine sports book, as good as I've read for many a long day.
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on 2 September 2006
Flying somewhat in the face of other reviews, I feel obliged to report that this is a fine story written and told very poorly. Stodgy, clumsy and too austere to be in any way readable, the author has his hands on gold yet transmutes it to tin....and any book that falls for the old "stationary cupboard" error shows that even the proof reader's interest was waning as early as page 10...sorry folks, but I'm thankful this was a gift rather than a purchase...
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on 27 July 2006
I saw a review of this in the Sundays and felt compelled to purchase a copy. A story of a man who today would be a superstar, a sportsman with more strings to his bow than Robin Hood. I'd recommend this to anyone, great book.
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on 25 July 2006
This book is a fascinating read whether you are a sports fan or not (I am not!). It meticulously charts the life of a great man lost to history. Mick Collins has done us a great service by writing this well researched book with such great respect and style.
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on 13 January 2007
I must confess that, despite a love for sport, I am not generally a fan of sporting (auto)biographies. With a few exceptions (The Perfect Distance: Ovett and Coe - The Record Breaking Rivalry by Pat Butcher to name an outstanding example)they are largely flat and dull and written with little or no journalistic flair. This book basically epitomises all of that.

It was like reading a GCSE English project at times, and I skim-read to the end purely because Woosnam's is a truly fascinating story, but clearly one that has been taken up by the wrong author. Some of the 'insights' into MW's character that were inferred by the author were tenuous at best, and others merely contrived nonsense.

Such a shame that a sporting great could not have been the subject of a more authoritative volume, rather than a forgettable stocking-filler.
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on 4 October 2007
This was a poorly researched and inadequate attempt on what appeared to be a great story.It reminded me of those comics ( Victor,Wizard etc)that were popular in the late 50's early 60's-indeed the cartoon reproduced in the book was as informative as much of the text.

Was it too much to expect Mr Collins to dig a little deeper and expand the book to reflect the contrast between Woosnam's privileged life and the hard world of professional football in the twenties.At the very least I would have expected to be provided with league tables and teams from the era.

There was so much that could have been written had the author approached matters with any degree of professionalism-could I recommend him to "Rugby's Great Split" by namesake Tony Collins which demonstrates what can be achieved with less than promising material and a lack of contemporaneous records-Max Woosnam 's life was both well documented and exciting and deserved a lot lot better.

My father was a boy at the time,living in Salford and playing for school and representative teams in the area.It would have been nice to have learned more about individuals-not just Woosnam but the interesting Eli Fletcher-who may well have been his schoolboy heroes.

I suggest you take a long hard look at your approach Mr Collins!
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on 30 November 2015
Marvelous book about a brilliant but little known sporting genius.
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