An FA Cup hero's extraordinary past


It is 55 years since the Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann famously completed an FA Cup final despite breaking a bone in his neck yet the story retains its fascination, as publishers Yellow Jersey discovered when Catrine Clay’s new take on the tale proved an unexpected hit with sports book readers after it was published in hardback last spring.
Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend won critical acclaim, too, making the shortlist of six for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.  Yellow Jersey will be looking for another surge of interest this week when the book is released in paperback.
The focus of Clay’s interest in the German footballer is away from the field of play, however.  The part of his life for which Trautmann is best known is largely confined to the final two chapters.   It is the life that preceded the event that brought him to England -- his capture as a prisoner of war in 1945 -- that fascinated Clay, a noted maker of historical documentaries for television.  The Trautmann at the centre of this story is the young man Clay believes was typical of his generation of Germans in being seduced by Nazism. 
We learn that Trautmann, whose physique and athletic ability made him in many ways the perfect fit for the Aryan ideal, was the son of a Nazi party member and embraced the ideals of the party without apology, arguing that in the Germany of his growing up, there was little alternative. Bernhard, as he was, joined the Hitler Youth and went off to fight as a soldier believing that it was the right thing to do.  
Thus the story is less about sport than the history of Germany between Trautmann’s birth in 1923 and the conclusion of the second world war. That might leave some readers feeling short-changed but if ever a story needed to be seen in context, then that of the German who signed for a top-level English football club only four years after their countries were in conflict is one.

Buy Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend direct from Amazon.





Olympic hopeful Tom Daley to show off his skill with a camera

The talents of Britain’s Commonwealth and World champion Tom Daley do not end with what he can do from a 10 metre diving board. 
The precociously talented 16-year-old also harbours ambitions in photography and will show off his skill with the camera in an illustrated memoir to be published in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics in London. 
Michael Joseph has acquired world all-language rights to the book after striking a deal with literary agent Jonathan Harris of Luxton Harris on behalf of Daley’s agent, Jamie Cunningham, of Professional Sports Group.
Daley said: "I am delighted to be working with Michael Joseph on my first book. The aim was to develop a concept involving photography at its core. Photography is part of my A Levels but also a hobby away from diving. I am really looking forward to creating a fun but interesting memoir of my sport, life, family and build up to London 2012."
Daley, who started diving at the age of seven, won two gold medals at the Commowealth Games in 2010, having achieved the honour of being the youngest competitor of any nationality to take part in a final when he represented Britain at the Bejing Olympics in 2008.
Academically talented, too, he collected a clean sweep of A and A* grades in his GCSEs, despite having to fit his studies around his diving.  He took three exams in private while participating in a world cup event in China.
Well used to being photographed, he is expected to be one of the poster-faces of the 2012 Olympics -- yet already knows something about life on the other side of the lens as the one clicking the shutter in celebrity photo-shoots.
He had an opportunity to meet supermodel Kate Moss while he was studying for his GCSE in photography and boldly asked if she would mind posing for him as part of a course project.
Ms Moss, whose fees earn her around £5 million per year, was clearly charmed and agreed to his request.
Michael Joseph will publish the as-yet untitled memoir in spring 2012, before the Olympics begin in London.



Crawley at Old Trafford stirs memories of FA Cup magic


Crawley’s historic date with Manchester United in the FA Cup this weekend will restore a little of the great competition’s faded magic as the Blue Square Premier team attempts to pull off the unthinkable at Old Trafford.
It also brings to mind a couple of books about the FA Cup to entrance those football fans who believe that the world’s oldest knockout competition ought to be celebrated with enthusiasm rather than be left to wither as the Premier League and the Champions League grow ever more gargantuan.
Paul Harrison’s FA Cup Giantkillers, published by The History Press, recalls the finest hours of minnows through history, from the victories of Boston Town and Spennymoor United in the 1920s to the more recent exploits of Tamworth and Burscough.
Football historian Harrison has combined much research with good use of photographs, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia to produce a lavishly illustrated book that takes an affectionate look at the who secured famous victories for non-League sides against Football League clubs.
Some of the stories -- such as that of Tottenham, for example, who were the first non-league side to win the FA Cup -- are well known. Others, such as Chilton Colliery‘s defeat of Rochdale in 1925, are now largely forgotten.

Follow the link to buy FA Cup Giantkillers.

Apart from those days in which the mighty were felled, the magic of the FA Cup was largely encapsulated by the day of the final at Wembley, which would enjoy unrivalled attention in the pre-Premier League era.
For decades the only domestic fixture to be screened live on television, the Cup Final at its peak of popularity was a broadcast event that took up much of the day, with coverage occupying considerably more airtime than the couple of hours it took to decide the outcome.
It is that era towards which journalist Matt Eastley paid homage in From Bovril to Champagne, which focuses in particular on the 1970s, which many regard as the greatest decade in the history of the competition, which began with the first final to be replayed, after Chelsea and Leeds finished 2-2 at Wembley, and ended with Arsenal’s extraordinary 3-2 victory over Manchester United.  The period also included Sunderland’s downing of Leeds in the 1973 final and Southampton’s win over Manchester United in 1976.
Eastley, a regular contributor to the football nostalgia magazine Backpass, interviewed football fans from many parts of the world who had attended finals in the 1970s and invited them to recount their stories.
Setting their memories in context by interweaving the news reports of the day as well as the television programmes and pop songs that were popular, the author attempted to recreate the atmosphere of an era in which the FA Cup Final was a unique and momentous event, when the nation really did stop for a football match.  Many who have read it believe he succeeded in his goal.

Follow the link to buy From Bovril to Champagne: When the FA Cup Really Mattered 



Moore's black history makes compelling reading


Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All

The winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in November, Brian Moore’s dark autobiography was published in paperback soon afterwards and was among the best-selling sports books in the run-up to Christmas, and beyond.
And with good reason; as a candid confession from deep within the soul of a sports star, the rugby hardman’s story has few peers.
The former England hooker turned rugby writer and commentator was guaranteed to make headlines through his revelations about the sexual abuse he suffered as a schoolboy at the hands of a male teacher.   Given the popularity of so-called “misery memoirs”, Moore’s bleak and terrifying experience was an obvious selling point.
As such, even though the victim in this case has a high public profile, it is not a new theme.  What sets Moore’s tale apart -- and clearly impressed the William Hill judges -- is the depth of the author’s personal insight not merely in linking the abuse with flaws in his character but in delving into his own psychology with a frankness that leaves the reader in no doubt why he has acquired as many enemies and detractors as friends.
He does not dwell on such matters to the extent that they push the rugby into the margins and readers interested in what he achieved on the field should not feel left out yet it is the stark, at times brilliant prose with which he confronts his innermost demons that is the book’s undoubted strength.

Click on the link to buy Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All direct from amazon.co.uk

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Neville ready to tell all


Gary Neville’s retirement as an active footballer clears the way for the publication of his autobiography later this year.
The Manchester United captain and former England international defender signed a deal with publishers Transworld at the beginning of last year on the understanding that the project would be completed only after he finished playing.
Given his reputation for outspoken comment, you suspect the delay in going to press might have less to do with needing time to put the finishing touches to his story than not wishing to meet some of his opponents on the field again once they have read what he thinks of them.
Neville has never been afraid to speak his mind, to the extent that he was prepared even to take on Sir Alex Ferguson as the Professional Footballers’ Association representative in the Old Trafford dressing room, the players’ equivalent of a shop steward.
He took it upon himself to be the players’ spokesman in the England team, too, once threatening to lead the squad out on strike after Rio Ferdinand was banned for missing a drugs test.  It was not only for the colour of his shirt that he was often referred to as Red Nev.
Paul Hince, the former chief sports writer of the Manchester Evening News, wrote recently that Neville once took the paper’s sports editor to task over what he considered to be unfair “marks out of 10” scoring in match reports.  It is difficult to imagine one of the modern generation of football stars, many of whom seem to be masters of practised indifference, being bothered by such matters but Neville had a rare passion.
He also embraced Ferguson’s ‘us against the world’ philosophy in his role with United and did not care if some found that characteristic less than appealing.
Transworld’s advance publicity describes their client as “authoritative, insightful, fearless and never less than 100 per cent honest -- no-one has better credentials for documenting the story of United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Neville reveals the behind-the-scenes secrets of his early days with the likes of Giggs, Scholes and his best mate David Beckham; what it was like to play with Cantona, Keane and Ronaldo; the Treble in 1999; and of course an entire career of playing for the greatest manager in the game.
“Then there are all his experiences with England from being the youngest starter at Euro 96 to the ups and downs of five major championships and seven managers -- Venables, Hoddle, Wilkinson, Keegan, Eriksson, McClaren and Capello. There are opinions and analysis on Gazza, Rooney, WAGs and the true story of the FA and Rio Ferdinand.”
The Neville story has a projected publication date of September 1.  Even though it is as yet untitled, it is already possible to pre-order by clicking on this link.

Pre-order Gary Neville's autobiography.

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Hayden digs in to tell his story


Gideon Haigh’s authoritative reporting of England’s Ashes triumph -- due out later this month -- is not the only sports title in Aurum Press’s spring catalogue.
Cricket fans can also look forward to the publication in England of the fearsome Australian batsman Matthew Hayden’s autobiography, Standing My Ground, which hit the bookstands Down Under last year.  Hayden’s retirement two years ago has been an important factor in the end of Australia’s dominance of international cricket.
Hayden has been a controversial character, known almost as much for his unrelenting sledging from the crease or the slips.  His batting, which enabled him at his peak to take Brian Lara’s record for the highest Test score (before the West Indies star claimed it back), won him many admirers, but his character meant many cricket fans counted him among the players they most loathed.
The Queenslander opens up to Sydney Herald-Sun cricket writer Robert Craddock, who ghosted for him, and is much more frank than some of his contemporaries about the tensions and differences within the Australian camp, particularly during the 2005 series in England.  He also insists that by his behaviour on the field, which has always seemed a contradiction to his rather more gentle manner away from cricket, he was merely fulfilling his role in the team, part of which was to get under the skin of opponents.
Standing My Ground: The Autobiography of Matthew Hayden has an April publication date here.  The following month, Aurum offers the latest in a growing library of Daily Telegraph books, edited by that newspaper’s former assistant sports editor, Martin Smith.
'Old Dobber' Bedser
Cricket Letters to The Daily Telegraph brings together for the first time the best contributions to the letters page of the traditional cricket follower’s journal of choice, spanning subjects that range from Bodyline to helmets, and from swing bowling to sunglasses.
One gem amongst them is a charming but devastating put-down of Telegraph cricket analyst Simon Hughes from the former England bowler Sir Alec Bedser, whom Hughes had somewhat rashly described, along with Derek Shackleton, who took more than 100 first-class wickets in 20 consecutive seasons, as “an old dobber”.
Bedser, who took 236 wickets in 51 Tests for England, pointed out that “one of those old ‘dobbers’ did go to Australia in 1950–51 and took 30 wickets at 16.06 in five Tests.
“In the next series the old ‘dobber’, also against Australia in five Test matches, did take 39 wickets at 17.00 each. A matter of 69 wickets in 10 consecutive games v Australia at less than 17.00 each. From 1950 to 1953 this old ‘dobber’ did take 121 Test wickets in 21 Tests at 18.16 each. Not bad for an old ‘dobber’. Perhaps we might find another one somewhere.”

Click on the links to pre-order from Amazon.

Standing My Ground: The Autobiography of Matthew Haydenwill be published by Aurum Press on April 25.
Cricket Letters to The Daily Telegraph, edited by Martin Smith, is published by Aurum on May 25.

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