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Forever Young
Click & Collect
Oliver Kay
£20.00 Hardback

Have you heard of Adrian Doherty?  Even if you are a Manchester United fan it’s possible you don’t know the story of one of the most promising youngsters the club produced.  A contemporary of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and others destined to be household names around the world, Adrian Doherty had the potential to be the biggest star of them all. Team mates believed him to be as good as, if not even better than, Giggs himself. Giggs does not demur from that belief: “He could go past people at will”. “He could go inside, outside, play one-twos, pass and move… he was an incredible talent. Incredible”. Offered a five year contract at the age of 17 (which, astonishingly, he turned down!), Doherty was heading to stardom under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson but the fates decided a very different life path that would ultimately end with premature death the day before his 27th birthday following an accident in Holland. The injury which ended his career will draw parallels, one would think, with Paul Lake’s fabulous autobiography, I’m Not Really Here, while the untimely tragic end will bring to mind Ronald Reng’s eulogy to his friend Robert Enke in the wonderful A Life Too Short.

Oliver Kay, Chief Football Correspondent of The Times, has written the story of the boy plucked from the midst of the Troubles by one of the world’s biggest clubs and with the help of over 100 interviews with those who knew him best has produced a fascinating and gripping book.  From family, friends and teammates we learn all about the boy, man and player.  About his faith, his obsession with music and poetry and above all about his innate talent that had Forest, Arsenal and United fighting for his signature before he was a teenager.  It is testament to Kay’s skill as a writer that one of my abiding emotions after reading this book is that I wish I had seen Doherty play.  Kay’s writing brings the pace and skill of Doherty to life and has created what will be one of the football books of the year.

See our list of Best Football Biographies

Today We Die a Little
Click & Collect

Emil Zatopek was a phenomenon.  He changed long distance running forever with his training techniques, his times and his achievements.  He won the Olympic Gold Medals in 5000m, 10,000m & the Marathon: at the same Olympics!  Incredibly he achieved all he did against the back drop of the Cold War and the cynical manipulation of sport by the Czechoslovak Communist regime.  As a soldier in the Czechoslovak army, Zatopek was used as a tool to boost productivity at home and the regime's position internationally.  There is an interesting internal debate in the book about how much Zatopek worked with the government actively or was simply a pawn.

It is perhaps the historical perspective which lifts this book beyond the average. Askwith, author of Feet in the Clouds Running Free, did extensive research in the Czech Republic and interviewed many of Zatopek's contemporaries including his wife, Dana, herself an Olympic champion. The result is a wonderfully told story of individual passion and commitment amidst a complex political background.  

See our list of The Best Running Books of all Time

Read on with this fascinating article from Richard Askwith, talking about Emil Zatopek 


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Writing for Love (of Cricket)

When writer and journalist Jon Hotten began his blog The Old Batsman:The Consolations of a Cricketing Life in 2008 he had no idea of the popularity it would achieve; or that it would springboard him into the job of his dreams. With a new book, The Meaning of Cricket fresh off the press, Hotten discusses how writing for love - and not just money and a deadline - led him into his ideal career as a cricket writer.

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Le Grand Tour

We're witnessing an explosion in the quality of writing dedicated to the art and sport of cycling. With the Tour de France now at full, unrelenting throttle, Matt Gardiner sat down with four such top writers and captured their thoughts on all things Le Tour.

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