Top positive review
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All Round Good Read
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.