Brilliant book covering the first British domestic team in the 1987 Tour de France. The journalist is new to cycling, and the cycling team is weak compared to other teams - a real rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of grand tours.
Loved the book I can remember the tour of '87 as I followed it on channel 4 every night after doing my paper round, I couldn't believe that someone from sheffield was riding le tour. Makes you realise too how much work goes into riding a race like this. Chapeau to ANC !!
IN the summer of 1987 Manchester-born journalist Jeff Connor, then a sub-editor on the Daily Star newspaper, was dispatched by his bosses to cover the Tour de France. As they bade him au revoir from their Ancoats office, hopes were held that he might return with a success story. Connor was 'embedded' with ANC-Halfords - a wild-card team and the first British squad in almost two decades to compete in the world's toughest endurance test. They were also arguably the most under-rehearsed. Five of the nine riders didn't even reach Paris, let alone the finishing line on the Champs-Elysees. At one point the team manager who 'smoked like Humphrey Bogart' throughout the entire episode walked out, some personnel went unpaid and ANC-Halfords returned to Blighty without winning a solitary stage. Connor's witty and brilliantly-crafted fly-on-the-wall account of the doomed squad's misadventures through the sun-seared N-routes and myriad hotel rooms of Europe resulted in the classic Wide-Eyed and Legless: Inside the Tour de France. Owing to a modest original print-run of just 1,000, Wide-Eyed became a sought-after collector's item and whenever it appeared in the e-bay shop window it did not stick around for long. Last winter its cult status as a semi-obscure if well-regarded piece of journalism gave way to national acclaim when it was voted the finest cycling book of all-time by Cycle Sport magazine. Now, 25 years after that never-to-be-forgotten farrago - and with a dozen more books under his belt - Connor has revisited his old stamping ground. With Field Of Fire - The Tour de France of '87 and the Rise and Fall of ANC-Halfords (Mainstream Publishing), the author has tracked down and interviewed the dramatis personae of that original cast and discovered what time has done to them in the intervening decades. Connor has not been without travails in his own life in the years that have passed since he awoke in a tawdry Berlin hotel bedroom, hating every moment of his assignment and 'trying to work out the best way of getting home.' Talented sportswriting we shall yet see, but there is only one Jeff Connor and Field Of Fire is his finest publication to date.
I read Wide Eyed a few years ago but this book was more enjoyable. Time clearly liberates Connor and we get a better in-site to this team. It was a lovely touch making up with Jones and hearing the reaction of the riders to wide eyed. Connors own battle is also an interesting back drop to this book. Thanks for this follow up.
If you have read Jeff Connor's first book then you will know the story of ANC halfords at the tour de France,most of my cycling books look at the murkier side of cycling,this book really shows how hard continental cycling was in the 80's.