I'm sorry but you won't find here the just-in-time-for Christmas sports autobiography blockbusters. With enough manufactured controversy to ensure blanket coverage when they are launched even a skim read will reveal that on the contrary they tell the reader very little they didn't either know or suspect already.
Instead I would recommend a weighty volume of this sort . A Companion to Sport edited by David Andrews and Ben Carrington. The range of coverage from Monty Panesar to football's 2010 World Cup is matched by the variety of insights.
Rob Steen's new book Floodlights and Touchlines is a living history of the relationship between the spectator and his, or increasingly as Rob chronicles, her sport. Simon Inglis has helped transform our understanding of what these sports stadia mean to their localities, and his latest account of this relationship, Played in London continues the richness of Simon's explanation.
Michael Walker's Up There is a hugely entertaining application of the social and historical, to the place of football in England's North-East. The First Game With My Father by Michael Tierney expertly, and movingly applies this macro-analysis of big picture football connectivity to the micro, the personal. Alex Fynn's latest book Arsène & Arsenal continues his study of Arsenal both as a football club and a business. Ian Plenderleith's Rock n Roll Soccer is an account of the 1970s North American Soccer League .
Matt Dickinson's new biography Bobby Moore: The Man In Full reveals both Moore's supreme achievements, with England and West Ham, but also the flaws even the most heroic contain within themselves. The Secret Footballer's Guide to the Modern Game is the third volume of home truths from the suspiciously well-informed anonymous source.
Sport doesn't simply collide with economic forces it is indivisible from the political and social too. This idea is the basis of these quarterly forays into reviewing the best of current sportswriting. The Nazi Olympics of 1936 remain the strongest example yet of this combination of sport and politics. Field of Shadows by Dan Waddell uncovers a part of sporting history from this period which I suspect even the most well-informed sports fan would be unaware of. The 1937 English cricket tour of Nazi Germany !
Herbie Sykes covers a different sport , cycling, and a different era for Germany, the East German GDR years of the Berlin Wall. Herbie's wonderful book The Race against the Stasi details the career, life and times of one of the sporting heroes of East Germany, Dieter Wiedemann. The culture that turned him firstly into an elite athlete, then into an icon of GDR socialism, the disillusionment that led him to escape, turn pro, ride Le Tour and the efforts of the Stasi to repatriate hum.
Michael Barry's autobiographical Shadows on the Road is both brutally honest while elegantly moving in terms of his vision for what cycling clean means. Jan Cleijne's Legends of the Tour is a stunning graphic history of what remains the greatest race on earth. Ellis Bacon's Great British Cycling tracks the irresistible rise of the sport on these shores from modest beginnings. to such great achievements to be thought of as worldbeaters. Nicole Cooke's autobiographical The Breakaway is both a powerfully-written testament to the measure of that achievement by a former World and European champion on the road plus a well-argued critique of the barriers that stand in the way of women's cycling.
The latest edition of The Cycling Anthology remains the must-read collection of the very best writing on two wheels. Keep Calm and Pedal On is a great collection of quotes on cycling.Sam Tracy has written a Bicycle Repair Manifesto full of useful diy maintenance tips to keep the bike on the road. Bike Mechanic is one of the most beautifully produced books I've ever read. In words but, most of all with arthouse standard photographs and layout a homage to those who build and maintain bikes.
Allyson Pollock's investigative Tackling Rugby focusses on children and youth rugby, the risk of injury, especially head injuries, and the failure of the sport's governing bodies to react.
And my sports book of the quarter? David Goldblatt's latest book The Game of Our Lives is both a social history of the domestic game and a critique of its modern, monetised manifestation. David combines a sympathetic and original explanation of why football is of such importance to so many while accounting for why it deserves nothing resembling a hagiography because of its many, mostly self-inflicted out of commercial greed, failings.
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Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled 'sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction' aka Philosophy Football