Arthur Milton book paints affectionate portrait of a man as happy delivering letters as posting runs for England

Arthur Milton played for England at football and cricket yet in later years he told friends he felt as much a sense of satisfaction working as a postman in Bristol, the job he took when he retired from cricket coaching at Oxford University.

"I loved the quiet of the early morning, looking at the stars,” he once said. “People used to say I'd missed the big money of present-day sport. I told them I was still a millionaire, out on my bike as life stirred so excitingly."

Some would suggest that being so easily fulfilled was symptomatic of a lack of ambition, but for which he might have won rather more than his six Test caps, and not been restricted to one appearance for the England football team.  Others could argue that he was simply a man who appreciated life in all its shades, and that his sunny, even temperament was a virtue to be cherished.

Mike Vockins, the former secretary of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, enjoyed a friendship with Milton spanning many years and would count himself without apology as an admirer, so it is hardly surprising that his biography, Arthur Milton: Last of the Double Internationals, is written as an affectionate portrait.

Milton played on the wing for Arsenal between 1950 and 1955, finishing his soccer career with a season at Bristol City, and cricket for much longer, making his debut for Gloucestershire in 1948 and not calling it a day until 1974, by which time he was 46.  An opening batsman with a sharp, mathematical brain, he amassed more than 32,000 first-class runs, but could also offer useful medium pace bowling (79 wickets) and excellent close fielding (758 catches).

Regularly pressed to put his life story into a book, he decided he would do so in the autumn of 2006. He called Vockins, who would have willingly suggested any number of potential ghostwriters among cricket journalists had Milton not insisted that he should be the one to translate his memories into prose.  They began meeting every Tuesday, Vockins quickly filling tapes and notebooks.  The meetings came to an end, sadly, the following April, when Milton suffered a heart attack and died, aged 79.

Happily, Vockins already had a wealth of material and Milton’s survivors -- his wife, Joan, and their three sons -- were keen to see the project completed and he interviewed many of the player’s friends and former colleagues to ensure he left nothing out.

Milton was one of only 12 men to have been capped by England at both national sports and was the last, before the expansion of the seasons and the heavy physical demands made of players in the modern era made the combining of careers in two disciplines impossible.  His contribution to cricket was immense but he did not want it to end when he put away his bat for the last time and, as a coach at Oxford, he helped nurture richly talented cricketers of the calibre of Imran Khan, Chris Tavare and Vic Marks.

It is a remarkable story, not least for the way in which he eschewed all thoughts of conventional retirement and chose to get up before dawn, first to work as a postman and later, when he was told he could not go on beyond 60,  to deliver papers so that he could continue to enjoy watching the sun come up on his beloved Clifton Downs, the part of Bristol which had long been his home.

Buy Arthur Milton: Last of the Double Internationals (published by SportsBooks) direct from Amazon

Browse more cricket books



Millar's tale the race leader among clutch of popular cycling books

by Jon Culley

Cycling is enjoying a boom in popularity, on the printed page at least. The current best sellers among sports books include a clutch of cycling titles, and not only because curiosity has been stirred by media coverage of the Tour de France.

One or two deserve their recognition on literary merit, rather than for the subject matter, not least David Millar’s compelling and at times harrowing account of his fall into the murky world of doping, Racing Through the Dark, which currently leads the best-sellers list across all sports.

Millar is the Scottish rider and world time trial champion who was banned for two years after being arrested in 2004 and admitting that he had taken the blood-boosting hormone, Erythropoietin -- better known as EPO. He returned to racing and rebuilt his career, determined not only to compete without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs but to campaign against them.

A stage winner in the Tour de France for the first time in 2000, Millar demonstrated his enduring prowess at 34 years old with a time trial win in this year’s Giro d’Italia and already has a stage win under his belt -- his first since his tainted performance in 2003 -- at this year’s Tour for the Garmin-Cervélo team.

Racing Through the Dark begins in June 2004 in a police cell in Biarritz, where Millar had been detained following his arrest in an upmarket restaurant.  French police were investigating an alleged doping ring within the Cofidis team and suspected Millar of being involved.  Later, a search of Millar‘s nearby home -- he was based in the luxurious resort at the time -- found syringes he had used to administer EPO and he confessed.

In what reviewers have acknowledged as a powerful narrative, Millar describes the complexity of the circumstances in which he allowed himself to be drawn into a doping culture that dominated cycling to the extent that he believed it was almost impossible to win without being party to it.  He also describes with considerable insight how drugs turned his sport rotten in a way that surpassed even the incidence of cheating in athletics.

The tipping point for him had come in 2001.  Burdened by the pressures on him as leader of his team, for whom his success could mean the difference between staying competitive or folding, he decided he would dope himself for the three-week Tour of Spain, where longer endurance powers and quicker recovery times enabled him to win two stages.   In the months that followed, he rose to the top 15 in the world rankings and collected a €400,000 performance-related bonus.

By 2003, however, with friends and family aware of effect that drug use was having on him, he knew he could not maintain the charade and while he has admitted that he would have found it difficult to own up had he not been caught he now regards his arrest and subsequent confession as liberating.

Since his comeback, he has rekindled his love of cycling and has become the peloton’s unofficial spokesman on many aspects of the sport but in particular to use his own experience to underpin his campaign against doping.

"I've been purging myself – and emptying it all out,” he said in a recent interview with the Guardian‘s Donald McRae. “I wanted to stay in this game and help the sport. I think any doper who is caught has a duty to assume responsibility for speaking out against it. This should be part of the rehabilitation process. It's only right we should be considered first as ex-dopers. We should be border-line vigilantes when it comes to education against doping."

Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar is published by Orion. Click on the link to buy.

More Tour-related cycling bestsellers

Browse more CYCLING books



What's New: this week's new titles in sports books

July 4-10 2011: by Jon Culley

The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop
Cancer killed John Tarrant when he was only 42 but in his short life -- recounted by Bill Jones -- he was a brilliant distance runner whose dreams of Olympic glory were shattered when honesty persuaded him to admit he had been paid to box as a teenager.  Banned from amateurs-only athletics, he subsequently became ‘the ghost runner’, gatecrashing major events to prove his talent and his love of running.

Published by Mainstream (July 7)


End of the Rainbow: England's Quest for Glory in South Africa

A year on, Oliver Holt, chief sports writer of the Daily Mirror who formerly wrote more expansively and with distinction for The Times, analyses England’s disastrous 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, revealing the tensions, drama and intrigue behind Fabio Capello’s relationship with his team.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton (July 7)


The Last Flannelled Fool

Actor and cricket nut Michael Simkins sold 40,000 copies of Fatty Batter, which wittily charts the development of his obsession with willow and leather from overweight Brighton schoolboy to his middle years.  He has followed up by trying to discover if the factors that fired his passion for cricket still exist.

Published by Ebury Press (July 7)


Promised Land: A Northern Love Story

Anthony Clavane’s award-winning story of a city, a culture and a football team has been updated and repackaged for its paperback edition.  Endlessly fascinating, a book with an appeal that stretches beyond its core audience of Leeds United fans.

Published by Yellow Jersey (July 7)


Red Bull Racing F1 Car Manual

Not something many are likely to need for practical purposes, unless they have plans -- and a few million quid to spare -- to buy one of Sebastian Vettel’s cast-offs.  But Steve Rendle, author of more than 50 Haynes’ manuals, gives the Red Bull RB6 the treatment nonetheless, providing a fascinating insight into the design, technology and engineering of an F1 car.

Published by J H Haynes & Co (July 7)


Big Fry: Barry Fry: The Autobiography

Barry Fry, ex-Busby Babe, journeyman player turned outspoken manager and, latterly, club owner, tells riotous tales about George Best, Stan Flashman, Stan Collymore, David Sullivan and Karren Brady among others. "Enough to make your eyes water," he says.

New paperback edition published by Willow (July 4)


Giggsy: The Biography of Ryan Giggs

Paperback edition of journalist Frank Worrall’s biography of Ryan Giggs, written too soon to include extra-marital scandals, sadly.  Worrall’s back catalogue includes bios of Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Roy Keane and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Published by John Blake Publishing (July 4)


Kissing the Badge

Phil Ascough presents facts, stats and quizzes from two revolutionary decades of Premier League football, an era defined by glitz and glamour, wonder-goals and WAGs, billionaires and bail-outs.  Kissing the Badge is a memory-jogger and a test of football knowledge.

Published in paperback by A & C Black (July 4)


Graham Thorpe: Rising from the Ashes

Graham Thorpe is another top-level cricketer to be haunted by depression after playing out his career on the field against a backdrop of personal problems off it. This new edition of a brutally honest life story first published in 2005 looks back on that summer‘s Ashes series and updates the story to include the former England batsman‘s new coaching career.

Published in paperback by HarperSport (July 4)

Shirts, Shorts and Spurs

Managers are hired and fired, players bought and sold; football club kitmen, on the other hand, tend to stay through thick and thin.  Roy Reyland occupied that role at Tottenham for the best part of 30 years, seeing off 17 managers and hundreds of players, to many of whom he was a friendly face and a willing listener.  Reissued in paperback, these are the insider secrets he is willing to divulge.

Published by John Blake Publishing (July 4)

Return to What's New

To browse more sports books, visit The Sports Bookshelf Shop.