My mate Ian Dommett’s son, Michael, lent me this irresistable book on Friday and I’m half way through it already.
It’s an amazing “fictional” (aye right) account of Brian Clough’s very short reign as manager of Leeds United. He despises them – but they despise him even more. It’s a vicious force ten gale assault of the senses. It really is unputdownable and brilliantly written. A cross between an epic poem and Trainspotting. Not for the faint hearted.
It got me thinking that although I profess never to read sports books, I’ve actually read a number of very good ones and so, in no particular order, here are my recommended reads. Please comment with your own suggestions.
Another footie classic. Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby.
Everyone’s read it. And so they should. I actually annotated my copy to try to show my wife how the footie fan’s mind works. Whether you follow a big team lkie ‘The Arsenal’ or fashionable losers like Cambridge United it should strike a chord with you. The film’s pish by the way.
The only boxing book I’ve read is Norman Mailer’s ‘The Fight’ which is about his time ’embedded’ in Ali’s camp whilst he prepares for The Rumble in the Jungle. This is a masterpiece. It is so beautifully written. Not many sports books are so crafted, so much so that the story isn’t the most important thing here, it’s the sense of place that it evokes that is amazing. It feels pretty voyeuristic reading it actually.
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand is another corker. It tells the story of America’s most loved racehorse, Seabiscuit, but it’s really a story about class and the unlikely success of a knackered horse, knackered trainer and knackered jockey, in a knackered 1930’s USA. Now this one IS about the story. Highly recommended.
Two cycling books I can strongly endorse are both (at their core) about drugs. Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage (the least famous of Ireland’s Roche, Kelly, Kimmage…who?… aristocracy) is about how to do the Tour De France without taking performance enhancing drugs and failing spectacularly as a result. It can’t be done he argues. I believed him.
It’s not about the Bike by Lance Armstrong is about Armstrong’s fight with cancer, but in reality it’s a big defence of his strict abstention from the aforementioned drugs use. Armstrong was never found guilty of taking dope. I wish it was true. I am almost niaive enough to believe him and this book certainly makes me want to. It is a very moving account of his cancer fight. And I should take this opportunity to warn you away from the massively inferior Every Second Counts.