The best sports books of 2015
When it comes to sports books I am always drawn to the most thought provoking ones, those which challenge convention or my own preconceptions. In much the same way the sports people who attract my interest are those who transcend their own particular sport. Here are the books which are on my Christmas wish list:-
Proud by Gareth Thomas & Michael Calvin
Rugby player Gareth Thomas was a national hero, captain of Wales and the British Lions. He seemingly had it all but he had a secret that was slowly killing him. The deceit ended when Gareth became perhaps the most prominent sportsman to come out as gay. He felt like an outsider but found himself by facing up to who he really was.
Driven by Toby Vintcent
There has been plenty of fiction set around the world of horse racing but here’s a thriller based on Formula One with wheel-to-wheel battles, money and scandals. F1 Racing magazine said: “Vintcent takes inspiration from F1’s on-track action and off-track paddock politics in weaving together a page-turning conspiracy thriller.”
Field of Shadows by Dan Waddell
I’m a sucker for history so this unlikely tale of a cricket tour of Nazi Germany in 1937 caught my eye. It tells the story of how an enterprising cricket fanatic somehow persuaded Nazi leaders to invite an English team, the Gentlemen of Worcestershire, to play Germany in two unofficial Test matches against a backdrop of repression and brutality. The resultant story is one of civility, passion and hope.
Parkrun: A Celebration by Paul Warrington, Rob Kemp, Paul Duke and Julian Ward
The parkrun revolution came to Melton in 2015 so this 120-page tribute to the first decade of parkrun is timely. What began with 13 runners in Bushy Park is now a global phenomenon. The story is brought to life with interviews and photos from all corners of the world, celebrating the very capacity of sport to change lives and build communities.
Burrough Hill Lad by Gavan Naden and Max Riddington
This is the story of quietly spoken Leicestershire farmer Stan Riley and the racehorse which, in one incredible year under the indomitable trainer Jenny Pitman, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Hennessy Gold Cup and King George VI Chase. Man and horse shared the same steely determination and will to win.
Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager by Michael Calvin
Arsene Wenger, the longest serving manager in the English game, gives this book its title, likening the job to ‘living on a volcano: any day may be your last’. He has been at Arsenal for 17 years but the average lifespan of a professional football manager is just 17 months. Award-winning writer Michael Calvin charts the progress of more than 20 managers in search of answers to offer a unique insight.
Kings of the Road – A Journey into the Heart of British Cycling by Robert Dineen
British cycling is thriving at elite and grassroots level today, but the road travelled to this point has been far from smooth. Dineen charts the story alongside his own experiences preparing for the Etape du Tour, the sportive regarded as the ultimate challenge for the amateur cyclist, in a bid to see where the sport might be headed.
McCoy: The Complete Story edited by Brough Scott
Tony ‘AP’ McCoy is a sporting great who transcends his own sport. This book is a wonderful record of the 20-time champion jump jockey’s career in words and pictures from the Racing Post library. It paints a picture of a remarkable man capable of inspiring competitors in any sporting discipline.