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The top five sports books of the year 2023.

Watford Forever by John Preston and Elton John

Watford Forever
John Preston and Elton John, Viking

In 1977, Elton John was a famous and extravagant pop star. Graham Taylor, known for his strict management style, would later be called a turnip by the Sun. They may seem like an unlikely pair in the sports world, but together they led Watford Football Club from the bottom of the fourth division to becoming one of the top clubs in the country. Author John Preston, known for his works The Dig, Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell, and A Very English Scandal, shares a heartwarming tale of their unlikely friendship. In candid interviews with Elton, it is revealed that Taylor not only transformed the team but also helped the lonely and struggling musician overcome addiction. There are talks of a film adaptation in the future.

Althea- The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H Jacobs

Sally H Jacobs’ book, “Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson,” delves into the life of the tennis legend and challenges the conventional narrative surrounding her. Despite facing a challenging upbringing on the streets of Harlem and being labeled as too rough and ill-mannered to represent Black athletes, Gibson persevered and broke barriers in the sport, becoming the first Black woman to win Wimbledon in 1957. However, she faced criticism for not using her platform to advocate for civil rights. This detailed biography sheds light on Gibson’s life within the context of racism during her time and celebrates her as a trailblazer in both sports and politics, often overlooked in history.

Kick The Latch by Kathryn Scanlan

Kick the Latch
Kathryn Scanlan, Daunt

Kathryn Scanlan’s concise writing captures the harsh reality of life in the world of horse racing. Through interviews with a trainer from the Midwest, she presents a gripping combination of oral history and novella. Sonia, a tall woman from Iowa, gives up comfort and safety to pursue her passion for racing. The story unravels like a zoetrope projection, revealing a gritty and nomadic lifestyle. Despite the presence of violence, alcohol, and extreme poverty, the book maintains its sharp and luminous quality, painting a less glamorous but crucial view of the racetrack.

Unbreakable by Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Seven Dials

Is there a genuine necessity for a third memoir from Ronnie O’Sullivan? No. Is it logical for a snooker player with a tumultuous career to offer life advice? Most likely not. However, there is something in Tom Fordyce’s ghostwriting that surpasses the somewhat skeptical self-help format. Like other authors who have immersed themselves in the minds of sporting figures – such as Jon Hotten embodying Geoffrey Boycott and David Peace portraying Brian Clough – Fordyce elevates this book with his meticulous depiction of O’Sullivan’s greatest and most disastrous performances. Disregard the contrived philosophy and relish in the captivating details of his intense matches against John Higgins and Stephen Hendry.

Bazball- The Inside Story of a Test Cricket Revolution by Lawrence Booth and Nick Hoult

Bazball: The Inside Story of a Test Cricket Revolution

Lawrence Booth and Nick Hoult from Bloomsbury.

In the past 18 months, England’s Test team has undergone a swift and significant transformation. The term “Bazball” has even been added to dictionaries, and writers for the Mail and Telegraph, Booth and Hoult, have collaborated on a book examining this phenomenon that is likely to have a lasting impact on cricket. The book delves into the origins of “Bazball” in the childhood games of former New Zealand player-turned-England coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum, and also explores the journey of Ben Stokes, who has made a remarkable comeback after a highly publicized court case and the loss of his father. This story is a fun and exciting journey through a successful period in English cricket, culminating in one of the most memorable Ashes series of all time. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for those feeling down about the current World Cup.

Source: theguardian.com