Newest Sport Reviews

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Sport

Up Pohnpei: A quest to reclaim the soul of football by leading the world's ultimate underdogs to glory by Paul Watson

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I'm a huge fan of both football and reading, so a book about football is always likely to appeal to me as the best way of combining the two. Recently, I've read books set at the pinnacle of the game in Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United by Will Tidey and about one man's struggle to bring football to a foreign land in Bamboo Goalposts by Rowan Simons. Up Pohnpei is firmly in the latter category, treading very similar ground to Simons' book. Full review...

Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United by Will Tidey

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In his 25 years as manager of Manchester United Football Club, Sir Alex Ferguson has won everything, most of them more than once. He's taken his team to the top of English football with some lavish purchases, some expert man management and a ruthless dedication to his club and his players. Depending which side of the fence you sit on, this has made him either the most popular, or most hated, man in English football. I'm in the latter group. I'm a Liverpool fan. Full review...

The Voodoo Wave - Inside a Season of Triumph and Tumult at Maverick's by Mark Kreidler

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Maverick's is one of the biggest, nastiest, jaw droppingly huge waves in the Pacific Ocean and as such has become something of a Mecca for the world's top surfers. Situated off the coast of Northern California its freezing cold conditions make it a far cry from the sun drenched breaks in Hawaii, Mexico and South Africa with the number of surfers adequately qualified (and fearless enough) to take on the cliff like drops probably numbering less than 100. Full review...

There's A Golden Sky: How 20 years of the Premier League has changed football forever by Ian Ridley

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Twenty years ago the Premier League was founded, changing English football irreversibly. Also 20 years ago, journalist Ian Ridley wrote the classic Season In The Cold, a snapshot of the game at the time. Since then, clubs have risen and fallen, players have become legends, and Ridley himself has become chairman of not one but two non-league clubs – first Weymouth, from 2003-2004 (and again briefly in 2009) and more recently St Albans City. In this stunning follow-up to Season In The Cold, Ridley explore the effect that the changes in the sport have had at all levels. Full review...

How to Watch the Olympics: Scores and laws, heroes and zeros – an instant initiation to every sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton

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Are you planning an Olympic telefest for a few weeks in July 2012? Are you one of the lucky people who have tickets to their chosen events? Or are you one of those many people who are genuinely confused by the rules, or the scoring and who would like to know a little more so that they can understand what it's all about? If so, you should look no further. We have the book for you. Whether you're heading for London or going no further than the television we have the background to the sports. Full review...

Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Garden, and the Golden Age of Boxing by Kevin Mitchell

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Despite not being a particular fan of the sport of boxing, Kevin Mitchell's compelling knowledge of the personalities involved in the fight game in the 20th century, coupled with a staccato writing style which got my attention quickly and kept it to the very last page, meant this book actually rose far above my expectations. Full review...

The Phantom of The Open: Maurice Flitcroft, the World's Worst Golfer by Scott Murray and Simon Farnaby

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Maurice Flitcroft was forty six when he played his first round of golf. Most golfers start on the local course and hack around until they develop some skill. Not Maurice. That wasn't his way. He borrowed some books on golf from the library and decided that he was going to enter the Open. Yes – the Open. No starting at the bottom and working his way up – Maurice went straight for the big one. He ran up a score of 121 and the R&A (that's Royal and Ancient if you're not a golf fan) went ballistic. It might be said that they lacked a sense of humour but golf at this level is a serious game and Maurice was banned for life. Full review...

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Oceans' Greatest Furies by Susan Casey

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They're powerful enough to capsize unsinkable ships, wrench oil rigs from their moorings and can destroy vast swathes of coastal regions, flattening everything in their path and killing thousands of people in the process. So what is it that makes some men, and it is mostly men, go in search of these oceanic monsters? That is what Susan Casey tries to find out in this engaging, often awe inspiring and sometimes terrifying look at the world of big wave surfing. Full review...

The Cambridge Companion to Cricket by Anthony Bateman and Jeff Hill (Editors)

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Cricket has an international reach which can be rivaled by few other team sports, and this book looks at the history of the game going from England around the world to the other major Test-playing nations. While it's packed full of initially rather dauntingly dense prose, none of the 17 chapters are particularly long – most weighing in at a little under 20 pages – and the writing styles of all of the various authors are very accessible. Full review...

For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player by Victoria Coren

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Some things are in the blood. For Victoria Coren it was cards. As a child she and brother Giles were taught to play Blackjack by their grandfather. He called it Pontoon but the most valuable lesson was that grandfather was always the dealer and always the winner. Giles played Poker but wasn't really a gambler. Victoria was one of life's risk-takers and she leant to the more adventurous side of her father's family. She was unhappy at school, preferring the company of her brother's straight-talking friends to the bitchy all-girl atmosphere at school. In the intervening twenty years she's won a million dollars, but for her it's never been about the money. Full review...

We Could be Heroes: One Van, Two Blokes and Twelve World Championships by Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs

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Meet Ben Dirs. Apart from having one of the most unfortunate names on record, he’s a fairly laid-back guy whose daily breakfast consists of two cigarettes. Compared to Dirs, his BBC colleague Tom Fordyce – a keen amateur triathlete – looks like Daley Thompson in his prime. But Tom’s ambition of winning a world championship is still completely unachievable, surely? You don’t go from BBC blogger to 100m champion, football World Cup winner, or even the number 1 snooker player on Earth, after all. On the other hand, there are some more obscure Championships out there… could these two unlikely heroes make their dreams come true, and be recognised as the best shin kickers in the world? Not if Rory McGrath has anything to do with it! In addition to the Cotswold Olympicks and their shin-kicking, Dirs and Fordyce try snail racing, wife carrying, nettle eating, and many more weird and wonderful events. The only thing they have in common is the humour which the pair see in all of them. Full review...

Going Mental: Reaching Your Goals in Business and Sports - Full Contact NLP Coaching from a Full Contact Fighter by Jakob Lovstad

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Some books seem determined to put you off. Unless it's literary fiction 'Going Mental' suggests something that I've gone to great lengths to avoid. The man on the cover is bald, bloodied and apparently screaming. I've been avoiding men like that too. '…not for the soft and sensitive!' it says and whilst I wouldn't describe myself as either I do wonder whether allowing Jakob Lovstad to mess with my head is the wisest thing I've ever done. When I realise that he's a cage fighter I'm ready to run. What has that got to do with my business? Because that's what this book is about – reaching your goals in business and sports. Full review...

Play Magic Golf - How to use self-hypnosis, meditation, Zen, universal laws, quantum energy, and the latest psychological and NLP techniques to be a better golfer by Dr Stephen Simpson

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Do you find that when you're at the driving range or on the practice ground you're full of promise but once you translate this to the course all that promise drains away, leaving you stuck with the high handicappers? Do you know that you're better than this, but somehow you never seem to realise your potential? Yes? Then you need this book – and the probability is that you don't just need it on the golf course, but in 'real' life too. Maybe you're a more proficient golfer than that? You do quite well on the course? Then this book will show you how you can improve even more. Full review...

The Masters of Manton: From Alec Taylor to George Todd by Paul Mathieu

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'Manton' is one of those iconic names in horse racing: the yard on the edge of the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire and currently the home of trainer Brian Meehan. But Paul Mathieu isn't looking at what's happening today, or even in the recent past; he's looking back at the men who made Manton a household name from when the yard was built in 1870 through to George Todd's death in 1974. The first master was Alec Taylor – generally known as 'Old Alec Taylor', who came to Manton from Fyfield with a string of classic winners to his name. He, his son, 'Young Alec', Joe Lawson and George Todd were the great names in just over a century at the yard. Full review...

Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2010 - 2011 by Royal and Ancient

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The rules of golf are complex, but designed so that they give no unfair advantages or disadvantages to any players across the full range of abilities. Followed faithfully and honestly they should ensure a fair and comfortable game for all. But times have changed and there are always situations which are not explicitly covered by the rules. The Royal and Ancient receives over three thousand written requests for clarification each year – and these are not frivolous requests since they will only be considered if they are submitted by a representative of the committee in charge of the particular competition. 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf' is the accumulated wisdom on situations which might be considered ambiguous. Full review...

Missing the Boat: Chasing a Childhood Sailing Dream by Michael Hutchinson

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As a youngster in the nineteen eighties, Michael Hutchinson was passionate about sailing. He acquired a dinghy and crew, and spent his early years messing around on Belfast Lough. He learned to sail, race Mirrors and fling jellyfish accurately at passing competitors. In time, his salty daydreams became ambitious, encompassing the Olympic Games, America's Cup and Round the World yacht races. Trouble was, Hutchinson proved to be a deeply mediocre dinghy sailor, clocking up only one win in several seasons round the buoys. Although he was good enough at race tactics and seamanship, he lacked the sprinkling of gold dust that differentiates the very good performer from the brilliant. And so eventually, as is the way of sensible young men, he became disenchanted and stopped trying. Ironically, he then found he had a talent for cycling which took him as far as the Commonwealth Games. Full review...

England 'Til I Die - A celebration of England's amazing supporters by David Lane

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To start with, an admission. I am an English fan of football, but I am not a fan of England’s football squad. Hardly ever would I prefer to see the Three Lions triumphant. I never got into the habit, partly because I never saw the singularly English habit of supporting the underdog as making any sense. Plus you'll never get me standing up and singing that awful tune before the match. But here are testimonies from twenty or so people who see things completely differently to me. Full review...

Moment of Glory: The Year Tiger Lost His Swing and Underdogs Ruled the Majors by John Feinstein

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Despite the picture of Tiger Woods on the dust jacket this book is only incidentally about him. Between 2000 and 2002 Woods had dominated top-class golf, winning six of the twelve majors. But he's always after improvement and he sacked his swing coach and turned to someone new. The swing is the engine of a golfer's game and tinkering with a good swing has major implications. For Woods it meant that he floundered out of the big money in 2003. For everyone else it meant that there were chances to be taken. You might have expected that it would be the established stars who took advantage, but it wasn't to be. Full review...

Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend by Catrine Clay

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'You have to learn to be hard men, to accept sacrifice without ever succumbing'. Such did Hitler say at the Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies in the 1930s. He probably did not have in mind playing in goal at a FA Cup final with a broken neck, such is the lifetime of difference between the two references. But that lifetime, as packed and varied as it was, is in the pages of this ever-interesting and swiftly-devoured book. Full review...

Rugby Football during the Nineteenth Century: A Collection of Contemporary Essays about the Game by Bertram Fletcher Robinson by Paul R Spiring (Editor)

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The mid-nineteenth century represented the sporting equivalent of the 'big bang' in terms of winter sports in England, giving rise to the development of what today we call rugby union, football and rugby league, all from the same origin. Perhaps due to its popularity amongst the public schools of the day, rugby union for many years claimed the moral high ground, advocating amateurism and an emphasis on playing the game rather than providing a public spectacle. Indeed, the arguments over the dangers of professionalism, which initially led to the split into rugby league from the Northern clubs, continued in union for well over a hundred years right up to the former England captain Will Carling's description of the powers that be of the RFU as 'old farts'. In 1896 Bertrand Fletcher Robinson, together with contributions from a few leading players of the day, wrote Rugby Football which was the first volume in a successful nine-part series on Sports and Pastimes that was written for the Isthmian Library. This edition is effectively a facsimile of that book, with the addition of an introduction, penned by Patrick Casey and Hugh Cooke and compiled by Paul Spring. Full review...

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

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I think my husband was a little taken aback to see me curled up on the sofa engrossed in a book about American Football. I suppose I should admit that I didn't actually know it was going to be about American Football. Well, I knew it was about a boy who played American Football, but I'd thought that was just going to be the background story, you know, like in Jerry Maguire. So the first chapter seemed to go on and on forever, and I thought my head might pop from reading about quarterbacks and blind sides and plays and offence and defence and running statistics...but then somehow I stumbled to the real heart of the story; the story of Michael Oher, a young African-American from the slums of Memphis whose father was never around, and whose mother was a drug addict and lost him to social services at a young age. Full review...

For College, Club & Country - A History of Clifton Rugby Football Club by Patrick Casey and Richard I Hale

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Clifton Rugby Football Club can proudly trace its history back to the very emergence of the sport of rugby union. Founded in September 1872, the same year that William Webb Ellis, who is reputed to have been the rebellious Rugby schoolboy who first ran with the ball, died. In reality, it is highly likely that the Webb Ellis story is something of a spin job on behalf of Rugby School, although it did mean that Rugby School was able to impose its rules on the game at a time when most public schools had their own rules for playing versions of the game. Full review...

Where Are They Now? - Rediscovering Over 100 Football Stars of the 70s and 80s by Matt Allen

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This looks like some people's worst idea of a book, ever. Trivia, nostalgia, football, and lists - does it get more masculine? There's not a female in sight, either, as we get 101 portraits of footballers from times past, and most importantly, a summary of their career since hanging up the boots in the professional game. Full review...

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King by Philippe Auclair

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Even though I'm not a Manchester United fan, Eric Cantona is one of my all time favourite players and I was really excited to get the opportunity to read a book which was billed as revealing his innermost thoughts, and being the definitive account of his career. Full review...

Enabled: One Disabled Woman's Incredible Story of Tackling Her Disability in Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream by Ruth Merry and Steve Emecz

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Ruth Merry has never been your common-or-garden young lady. Born with no ability to move her legs, and more, due to a condition called arthrogryposis, she still became an avid equestrian, downhill skier, competitive swimmer, fund-raiser and more. At the beginning of this book a flippant comment inspires another, future dream - that of going down in a four-man bobsleigh. Full review...

Wind Driven: Barbara Kendall's Story by Wendy Kendall

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Barbara Kendell is an extraordinary woman. She has not only won windsurfing medals at three Olympics, she is a mother, an IOC representative, public speaker and mentor. This biography, written by her sister, tells the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who overcame her personal challenges and remains at the top of her sport after twenty years of competition. Full review...

The Bromley Boys by Dave Roberts

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Most football fans (except my brother, who refuses to have anything to do with anything that has anything to do with the Arsenal) will have read Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. It's the definitive book on what it's like to be a bloke who also supports a football team. It's also quite funny. It influenced every subsequent book about what it's like to be a football supporter. It also gave birth to a genre of writing that was subsequently termed 'lad lit'. Despite its imitators, nothing has been as good as Fever Pitch. Until now. Full review...

Sport: Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know by Tim Harris

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We all know one. Someone who can tell you who was the last player to score a hat trick for Accrington Stanley away to Grimsby on a Wednesday night in January. This was just a random example, by the way, so please don't write in with the answer. The kind of person who is wonderful to have on your side at a Quiz Night, but who you don't really want to be getting into conversation with if you can avoid it. Full review...

Bamboo Goalposts by Rowan Simons

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When it comes to football, I'm in agreement with the great Bill Shankly when he said: Football is not a matter of life and death, it's far more important than that. When it comes to China, my knowledge is limited to what I've seen on the TV recently about the earthquake, the Olympics and the protests; vague memories of Tiananmen Square and a love of the cuisine, or at least the version that comes from my local takeaway. Like many in the Western world, I have no concept of what life is truly like in China. Full review...

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

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Many a sports fan has dreamt of taking five wickets at Lord's or scoring the winning goal at the FA Cup Final at Wembley. For writer and American football aficionado George Plimpton that implausible fantasy became a reality.

Despite being 36 years old and possessing precisely zero in footballing credentials, Plimpton was determined to find out what it would take to become a pro quarterback with one of America's premier clubs, the Detroit Lions. Paper Lion tells the story of his incredible adventure. Full review...

Moments by Cristiano Ronaldo

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For football fans the name of Cristiano Ronaldo conjures images of Manchester United and the famous number 7 shirt worn by the likes of David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and George Best in the past. Originally thought of as nothing more than a nice face and hairstyle he's now proving himself to be a footballer of great talent and possibly even the best of his generation. Moments is not an autobiography but a series of snapshots of his life. Full review...

The R&A Golfer's Handbook by Renton Laidlaw

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Renton Laidlaw, former golf correspondent of The Evening Standard and respected commentator has been editing The R & A Golfer's Handbook for ten years. It's a veritable brick of a book and provides intelligent reading for anyone who is serious about the game, be they enthusiastic spectator, dedicated amateur or professional. It's not a book to read through but one which will provide hours of browsing. Full review...

You'll Win Nothing With Kids by Jim White

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Jim White has coached his son's football team for the past six years. He is that touchline wally. He is the man who makes you nudge your neighbour in the sparsely-populated stand, point him out and say "Watch him. Look at him now. Ha. Oh. Oh my lord. What's he doing?" That is Jim White. Father and son and football. They love it. They hate it. They obsess over it. They argue. It's probably the only time they exchange more than three words to one another in an entire week. It takes over the entire house. And now, it's even made it into a book. Full review...