GER McCARTHY casts his eyes over ten of the best sports books available to purchase during the Christmas period including a mix of GAA, football, NFL and other sporting titles
1. The Warrior’s Code: My Autobiography by Jackie Tyrrell with Christy O’Connor
Shortlisted for the 2017 Bord Gais Energy Book of the Year, the former nine-time All-Ireland and four-time All-Star winner’s account of his time breaking into and becoming a mainstay in the fabled Kilkenny senior hurling set-up is a must-read. Most intriguingly of all, Tyrell and O’Connor give an inside view on Brian Coady’s work ethic, man-management and coaching style throughout a lengthy but interesting read. In his time with the Cats, Tyrell comes across some of GAA’s most well-known modern day characters and The Sunday Game analyst’s honesty makes The Warrior’s Code one of the best GAA books available to buy this Christmas.
2. The Choice by Philly McMahon with Niall Kelly
This is the 2017 Bord Gais Energy Book of the Year Winner. Two-time All-Star and multi All-Ireland winning footballer Philly McMahon’s moving account of the loss of his older brother John and how that tragedy shaped his own life is deservedly ranked amongst the best sports books of the year.
McMahon is best known to GAA fans as one of Dublin’s most consistent players in Jim Gavin’s side’s recent dominance of the All Ireland football championship. Yet, the story of how two Ballymun brothers grew up and then grew apart as their lives took opposite directions is at the core of a remarkable book.
3. The Illustrated History of Football: Hall of Fame by David Squires
Author of last year’s bestselling ‘The Illustrated History of Football’, David Squires has established himself as one of the best known modern-day sporting cartoonist and satirists in his weekly Guardian appearances. As with his previous title, Squires identifies some of football’s greatest ever players (Pele, Maradonna and Ronaldo to name a few) and gives each of them a one-page written introduction before mercilessly poking fun at each individual’s most memorable moments in a series of comic-cartoon panels. This book is a perfect Christmas gift for the football-loving fanatic in your life.
4. First Hand: My Life and Irish Football by Eoin Hand with Jared Browne
Irish football suffered its fair share of heartache long before Jack Charlton rolled into town and took Ireland on a never to be forgotten journey to Euro 88, Italia 90 and USA 94. First Hand is a sometimes brutally honest account of Eoin Hand’s tenure as Republic of Ireland manager from 1980 to 1985.
Eoin Hand is instantly likeable and his affable nature shines through as well as the pain and suffering – most notably on missing out on the 1982 World Cup on goal difference – from the over the top criticism endured while trying to qualify Ireland for a first major championship. Hand’s heavy drinking and recovery from acute pancreatitis are two additional subjects dealt with honestly and openly throughout an entertaining book.
5. Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre by Jeff Pearlman
This book may be a year old but remains one of the best American Football titles on the market. New York Times’ bestselling author Jeff Pearlman is one of US Sports’ most popular writers. Pearlman’s forensic account of the life and times of one of the NFL’s best ever quarterbacks entertains from first page to last.
Brett Favre led the Green Bay Packers to two SuperBowl titles and while the on-field memories represent a fascinating recollection of some of ‘Number 4’s’ most iconic moments, it is his off-field struggles that elevate this autobiography to another level. Gunslinger is a terrific and insightful read.
6. The Mechanic: The Secret World of the F1 Pitlane by Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley
A rarity in the Christmas book market, The Mechanic offers a different view of the modern world of Formula 1 from the pit lane rather than the cockpit. Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley has worked closely with David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton during his time at McLaren. Yet it is Priestly’s relationship with Kimi Raikkonen that forms the centerpiece of a book that should appeal to all motor racing fans.
7. Season of Sundays – Sportsfile
The annual publication from some of the country’s best sports photographers has lost none of its quality in this, its 21st edition. Recounting the 2017 All-Ireland GAA championships, Sportsfile’s images combined with Alan Milton’s text make this a perfect Christmas present for GAA supporters of all ages.
8. Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British football’s greatest manager by Ian Herbert
Liverpool’s dominance of English and European football during the 1980’s owed much to the fabled ‘boot room’ where Bob Paisley and successive managers plotted the Anfield club’s remarkable trophy haul. Herbert interviews the people who knew Paisley best, his family and close friends, and paints a portrait of a life that began in up in the North-East mining community before developing into one of the most successful managers in English football history.
9. Boy Wonder – Tales from the Sidelines of an Irish Childhood by Dave Hannigan
Renowned author Dave Hannigan produces the best book of his career with Boy Wonder recalling his years growing up in Cork city during the 1970s and 1980s and the beginning of a lifetime’s fascination with sport. The New York-based writer recalls in vivid detail, local sporting rivalries and his admiration for his hero Jimmy Barry Murphy. Boy Wonder is an engaging read that will appeal to Cork natives as well as Irish sporting fans of all ages.
10. Gooch by Colm Cooper and Vincent Hogan
One of Ireland’s best writers coupled with one of GAA’s most famous forwards makes for an entertaining read as Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper recalls his trophy-laden club and inter-county career. The five-time All-Ireland winner and eight-time All-Star’s recollection of how he came back from injury-ravaged 2014 season, overcoming multiple setbacks and doubts, is probably the standout section of his book.