This was a long time interest, but one that never appeared to be a wise purchase at full price, due to the fact it’s quite short (190 to 200 pages) and has a price tag (RRP) of £9.99. The book however in principal was one I knew I’d enjoy, when and if it came down in price to an acceptable level, low and behold, a browse in The Works last weekend (after finishing another book in work) and this was cut price to a beautiful £1.99. Needing something to read that was simple and with out provoking me to think too much, this was an ideal purchase at last. A beamer, if you will.
The book’s author is former football playing and TV presenter Bob Wilson, who had long since stopped playing prior to my birth, but his work on TV had made him “the voice of football” as far as I was concerned. His work on shows such as Sportsnight, Grandstand, Football Focus, Match of the Day and work on 9 world cups, made him the vocal figure point of football on terrestrial TV during much of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Even now hearing his voice brings back memories of Arsenal in the early 1990’s being beaten in cup finals around Europe. As a player he was capped for England School Boys before playing for the full Scottish team, as well as Arsenal a team with which he was repeatedly a winner, including a European Fairs cup, league, and FA cup. As a man his respect in the sport is unquestioned even by fans of other teams (myself being a Man United fan) and he is arguably one of the most honest and knowledgeable sporting men out there.
So onto the book it’s self, which at 190 pages is short enough to read over a single afternoon (infact starting at 2 PM on a Saturday I’d gotten through over ¾ of the way through it by the time I finished at 5), but yet it’s also a book that is interesting and worth a read. So readers beware it’s NOT worth the RRP price, yet it’s thoroughly enjoyable. The book is pretty much a dictionary of sporting jargon starting with A (“Addicks”) and ending with Z (“Zooter”). Often with each entry having it’s own story as to where the word comes from, the book is a simple and easy read that takes the idea of a dictionary for sporting lexicon very well. With each entry having a definition, and a back story. for example “Michelle”- “[Cricket] A five wicket haul by a bowler in a single innings” with the story below.
The words coming from most of the major sports varies between the obsolete (“Bumper” for example is never used any more, replaced by the word “Bouncer” in Cricket) to the every day terms such as “Sweet Science” (a boxing term). They also range from the ones that everyone who watches sport knows about, such as “Southpaw” (a left hander, usually used in Boxing) to obscure ones such as “Bed and Breakfast” (a specific score in Darts) that some fans (myself included) had never even heard before. The go even further and range between sport stars nicknames such as “Big Easy” (Ernie Els’ nickname due to his size and easy going nature); to a type of cycle race (a “Madison” so named due to it first being raced at Madison Square Garden); a bizarre and peculiar cricket dismissal “Mankad” (a batsman ran out at the bowlers end due to backing up too much); an old golf club “Mashie Niblick” or the bizarre under water sport “Octopuch”. There’s some thing there for most of us…
…As long as you’re a fan of the more mainstream sports, such as Golf, Cricket or Football. The book does explore Cycling and Boxing occasionally (more so than many other sporting books) and the occasional reference to darts is nice, but if your a fan of the more American sports you will feel your sports were ignored. In fact Rugby also only gets a few mentions and could well have done with a few more. In fact the book as a whole could have been longer, with there being so many bizarre sporting terms overlooked. “Over” for example always made me wonder where the name came from, or “The D” (I know what it is, but whys it there?). The addition of these could have easily pushed the book into the category why a £9.99 purchase is fair, but the price is just TOO much for the book to be worth. Like previously stated I got it cheaply and at a price that was worth it, and it seems like a good purchase at the price.
Overall it’s ones for sports fans who will find it interesting and quite revealing for a rainy afternoon.