20120123

Clough: Confidential, by Dave Armitage: Sequel to popular 150 BC reflects perennial appetite for Brian Clough stories

FOOTBALL BOOKS


Given that everyone in football of a certain vintage seems to have a Brian Clough story to recall it is not surprising that there have been around 20 books written about the late former Derby County and Nottingham Forest manager.

From the first biography, penned by broadcaster Tony Francis in 1987, to the latest -- and certainly longest -- account of his life and career, exhaustively researched and painstakingly documented by Jonathan Wilson, Clough has remained an enduring source of fascination.

Wilson manages to explode a few anecdotal myths in his 566-page tour de force but it is hard to imagine that the appetite for Brian Clough stories, apocryphal or otherwise, will ever be sated.

Midlands football writer Dave Armitage found that to be the case when he assembled 150 gems gleaned from press room colleagues and a host of figures from within the game under the imaginative title 150 BC.

It was a collection of amusing, amazing and sometimes touchingly poignant tales that proved very popular, so much so that the stories he reluctantly left out were soon supplemented by many more as memories were jogged and more classic Cloughie moments came to light.

Armitage, who publishes under his own Hot Air imprint, sensed a sequel in the offing and the end result was Clough: Confidential, which brings together almost as many snapshots of Old Big ‘Ead as the first volume.

'Best book on Brian Clough' -- Kenny Burns


"There was never a plan for a second volume until the stories kept coming in," Armitage says.

"Forest legend Kenny Burns kindly took time to tell me he felt it was the best book on Clough he had ever read. A number of people who knew Cloughie exceptionally well took pains to say how much they had enjoyed it and were happy to give up even more of their memories."

It’s a sparkling read, naturally dominated by the years at Derby and Forest for which Clough was clearly famed most but not without reference to his briefer tenures -- very much briefer, in one instance -- at Brighton and Leeds.

John Vinicombe, the former Brighton Argus reporter -- who passed away last year, sadly -- provided a taste of how the Clough effect manifested itself by tripling the gates at Albion’s old Goldstone Ground and how the Clough Era is still talked about on the south coast, even though it lasted only eight months.

And Norman Hunter, hardly a fan as a first-hand dressing-room witness to Clough’s disastrous 44 days at Elland Road, recalls that, on the day he was sacked, Clough walked into a meeting of his testimonial committee and implored them to “raise all the money you can for this man because he deserves it.”

Hunter says: “I find myself strangely protective towards the memory of Brian Clough despite the fact that it took him until the 44th day of his reign to say anything nice about me.”

Buy Clough: Confidential and 150 B.C.: Cloughie - the Inside Stories direct from Amazon.

Further reading
More Cloughie tales on way as Armitage scores a go-it-alone hit

Learn more about Jonathan Wilson's biography of Brian Clough...
Unravelling the real truth behind the legend of Brian Clough
Clough, Taylor and why Sunderland still wonders what might have been

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20120116

Stuart Broad signs two-book deal as Simon & Schuster add more cricket books to their catalogue

CRICKET BOOKS

England cricketer Stuart Broad is hoping his popularity within the game and beyond will be reflected in substantial book sales when Stuart Broad’s World of Cricket is published this autumn.

The book is the first product of a two-book deal the 25-year-old fast-bowling all-rounder has signed with publishers Simon & Schuster UK.

Simon & Schuster are making a strong push in sports books this year, particularly books about cricket, with the autobiography of Broad’s England teammate James Anderson due out in September, which is also the scheduled publication date for a biography of spin bowling legend Shane Warne by the fine Australian cricket writer, Gideon Haigh.

Executive director Kyle MacRae described Broad as “the undoubted star of the current English cricketing generation.”

“Stuart’s professionalism and appeal across all age groups makes him the number one choice for people who want to learn about the game, his world and the wider areas of international cricket,” MacRae said. “This will be one of the biggest sports books of 2012.”

It will be Broad’s second venture into print, following on from Stuart Broad Bowled Over: An Ashes Celebration - My Side of the Story, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2009.

Broad, the current England Twenty20 captain, a Twenty20 world champion and an Ashes winner in 2009, is back in Test match action this week as England begin their three-match series against Pakistan in Dubai.

Broad is England's fourth most-followed on Twitter


Stuart Broad's popularity is reflected is a Twitter following that today stood at 234,672 -- although he is not the most followed England player.

Anderson, in fact, commands a bigger audience for his Tweets, with 253,198 followers, although both have much ground to make up on Broad’s Nottinghamshire teammate, Graeme Swann, whose frequently quirky and occasionally outspoken comments attract an impressive 331,335 regulars.

No surprise that Swann’s autobiography, The Breaks Are Off, was the best-selling cricket book of 2011. The paperback edition is due out in May this year.

Yet they all trail by some distance in the wake of the England dressing room’s most talked-about character, former captain and star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who at the last count had some 436,352 hanging on his every Tweet.

Graeme Swann: The Breaks are Off - My Autobiography
Stuart Broad Bowled Over: An Ashes Celebration - My Side of the Story

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20120111

Inside the Divide: Richard Wilson gets to the heart of Celtic v Rangers rivalry

The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers has seldom been less than intense since they first squared up to one another on May 28th, 1888.  Explosions of hatred between opposing supporters have been commonplace but the 2010-11 season will be remembered as particularly poisonous.

It was a season in which Celtic fans protested against the poppy, in which Celtic’s continuous complaints against referees led the officials to go on strike, in which Uefa fined Rangers for sectarian chanting and a Celtic fan was jailed for racially abusing the Rangers player, El-Hadji Diouf.

It was a season in which an Old Firm game of three red cards, 13 yellows and 34 arrests inside Celtic Park ended with rival managers Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon having to be dragged apart but which then sank to even lower depths as death threats were made against Celtic boss Lennon, who received bullets and explosives in the post.  Lennon was subsequently attacked by a Hearts supporter on the touchline during a televised match at Tynecastle.

Given this backdrop, Richard Wilson’s attempt to get to the core of a football enmity that outstrips all others comes at a timely moment and his new book, Inside the Divide: One City, Two Teams ... The Old Firm, has already attracted some glowing reviews.

The author, who has spent much of his working life as a football journalist in Glasgow, collecting several awards along the way, builds his narrative around the unfolding of one Old Firm match, in January 2010, chosen simply because it was the first to occur after he found a publisher willing to run with his idea.

He set out to view this game from multiple perspectives, interviewing not only participants and supporters but those involved at the peripheries, including the senior duty police officer and the Sky television commentator, even an A&E nurse on duty to attend to incoming wounded.  With their stories as a central thread that holds the tale together, he finds points at which to delve into the history of the game and to explore its social, political and religious context.

Reviewing for the Observer, Kevin McKenna describes Inside the Divide as “insightful and wonderfully written” and applauds Wilson’s efforts to identify the factors that make the Old Firm game unparalleled among derbies.  “Wilson, more than anyone in recent years, has told us why Celtic and Rangers matter and why their adherents have little of which to be ashamed and much of which to be proud,” he writes.

Writing in The Scotsman, Richard Bath confesses to disliking Wilson’s interspersing of his own “excellent narrative” with dramatic, fictional re-constructions of actual events (in the manner of David Peace in The Damned United) but is otherwise largely complimentary.

He describes what he perceives as Scotland’s “simultaneous fascination and revulsion with the Old Firm” as “a complicated relationship which Wilson chronicles with some dexterity.”

He adds that “the chapter devoted to Mo Johnston is particularly good, as is his analysis of how non-Scottish players such as Paul Gascoigne...were sucked into the whirlpool of heightened emotions and sectarianism which accompanies the Old Firm rivalry.”

Inside the Divide is, he concludes, “an entertaining book that illuminates much about the Old Firm, and about Scotland as a nation.”

Buy Inside the Divide: One City, Two Teams...The Old Firm direct from Amazon.

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20120110

Paul Kimmage to ghost Brian O'Driscoll autobiography for Penguin Ireland

News


Award-winning writer Paul Kimmage is to ghost the autobiography of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning rugby captain, Brian O’Driscoll.

Dublin-born Kimmage, who recently won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year prize for Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson, has been signed up as part of the deal that landed Penguin Ireland the O’Driscoll story.

O’Driscoll, who was voted world player of the decade by Rugby World magazine in January 2010, is one of only two men to captain Ireland to a Grand Slam.  He has also led them to four Triple Crown triumphs and is Irish rugby’s all-time highest international try scorer with 46.

Kimmage, who recently left the Sunday Times, said he was honoured by the invitation to write O’Driscoll’s book. "It's incredibly flattering to be asked to do it,” he said. “Brian is one of our (Ireland’s) genuine superstars.”

Yet admirers of the 38-year-old former professional cyclist will not be at all surprised at Penguin’s eagerness to have him work with O’Driscoll.

Having established his credentials as a writer when Rough Ride, in which he lifted the lid on cycling’s doping culture, was named William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 1990, Kimmage entered journalism with the Sunday Independent in Ireland before moving to the Sunday Times in 2003, subsequently winning the Sports Journalists’ Association’s Interviewer of the Year award five times in a row.

It was after an interview with Matt Hampson, the England under-21 rugby prop who was left paralysed by a training ground accident, that he wrote Engage, which had been favourite to land him a second William Hill prize last year before the judges plumped for A Life Too Short, the tragic story for former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke.

No publication date has been set for Brian O’Driscoll’s book. The 32-year-old outside centre is currently sidelined by a shoulder injury that has ruled him out of this year’s Six Nations championship.   But he hopes to tour Australia with the British and Irish Lions next year and has told Kimmage he does not want the book to be released before he retires.

Penguin believe they will have a winner on their hands whenever it comes out.

"Brian is a remarkable sportsman and has been an outstanding ambassador for Ireland both on and off the pitch,” the Penguin Ireland managing director, Michael McLoughlin, said. “We expect this autobiography to be an enormous bestseller."

It is Penguin Ireland’s second O’Driscoll book, following on from A Year in the Centre, published in 2005, which was a diary of the 2004-05 season, a painful one for the player in that it ended with serious injury in the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Also by Paul Kimmage:

Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist
Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino
Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson

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20120104

Arthur Kinnaird - a philanthropic nobleman and unsung football pioneer

Recommended in football books


During the 1870s and 80s, when he appeared in a record nine FA Cup finals for Wanderers and Old Etonians, Arthur Kinnaird was almost as colossal a figure in football as W G Grace had become in cricket.

There were even physical similarities.  Grace was easily identified by his ‘yeoman figure and shaggy beard’ -- the precise words used by the editor of Athletic News to describe Kinnaird. And just as Grace had his trademark yellow and red cricket cap, Kinnaird’s white trousers and blue and white quartered cap made him easy to pick out on the football field.

But where the life of Dr Grace, and his importance in the development and popularity of cricket, has been documented many times, the role of Kinnaird -- he inherited the title of Lord Kinnaird in 1887 -- was less well researched until sports historian Andy Mitchell decided to investigate.

Yet quite apart from being a considerable player in his day -- he has been described as football’s ‘first superstar’ and ‘without exception, the best player’ of his era -- he also served the game as a hugely influential administrator.  A Football Association committee member at only 21 years old in 1868, he was the organisation’s treasurer for 13 years and president from 1890 until his death in 1923, shortly before the opening of Wembley Stadium.

It was a life that began to interest Mitchell when he was working in Perthshire, the home of the London-born Kinnaird’s Scottish aristocratic family.

“With my interest in football history I was intrigued by this character who hailed from Perthshire,“ Mitchell said in an interview with the Perthshire Advertiser.

“Kinnaird features in a lot of books but only on a superficial level – he was clearly important but nobody had ever researched his life. He has gone down for posterity as someone fond of 'hacking', a bit of a toff who dabbled in football. But he was a key influence in the development of the sport.”

Kinnaird was born in Kennington, educated at Cheam School, Eton College and Cambridge University and became a director of Barclays Bank.  Yet he selected and played for Scotland’s first international team and Mitchell’s interest intensified when he himself became involved with Scottish football as Head of Communications at the Scottish FA.

“I spent 10 years at the SFA, travelling with the Scotland team,” he said. “After leaving them in 2007 I took the opportunity to research early football in greater detail, and decided to write this book on Arthur Kinnaird.”

Mitchell’s research took him first to the Kinnaird family home at Rossie Priory, where his great-granddaughter, Caroline Best, still runs the estate, and later to London, both to delve into the archives of Eton College and the FA, and to visit some of Kinnaird’s favourite haunts in Victorian London.

He discovered that far from being merely ‘a toff who dabbled in football’(and whose reputation for 'hacking' - i.e. kicking opponents - was almost certainly misplaced), the 11th Lord Kinnaird pursued another life as a social justice pioneer of extraordinary philanthropy. He spent nights on the streets, helping destitute orphans learn to read and write, and set up schools for the poor, giving away considerable sums from the fortune he made in banking.  Himself touched by tragedy -- he lost two sons in the First World War -- he fostered the spread of evangelical Christianity as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and was president of both the YMCA and YWCA.

Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football has won praise for Mitchell’s meticulous research and for editorial standards of accuracy and presentation not always associated with the independent and self-published sectors.

But, much more than that, it deserves to be acknowledged --  given that football rose under Kinnaird’s stewardship from a game played in muddy parks to an enormous, international spectator sport  -- for adding missing detail to a hugely important phase in the history of the game.

As Mitchell puts it: “Arthur Kinnaird was quite a man – and I hope this book belatedly brings him the recognition he deserves.”

ARTHUR Kinnaird: First Lord of Football” is published by CreateSpace (www.createspace.com), an amazon.com company.

Buy Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football

For more information about the book, go to www.lordkinnaird.com

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