Ger McCarthy looks at ten books that would make the ideal presents this Christmas
CHRISTMAS is right around the corner and sports enthusiasts are spoiled for choice with another bumper selection of must-have titles on offer once again this year.
It has been another vintage year for sports writing with quality books such as Mary White’s ‘Relentless’, Jimmy McGuinness’ ‘Until Victory Always’ and Tomás Ó Sé’s autobiography ‘White Heat’ essential stocking fillers for GAA-mad supporters.
There are plenty of titles to please rugby, soccer, horse racing and American grid-iron fans as well so here are The Southern Star’s Top Ten recommendations for any of your sports-mad friends or family members.
1. Relentless (by Mary White): The inside story on the rise of the Cork ladies’ football team and how they came to dominate the senior inter-county scene for the best part of a decade. Well-respected journalist Mary White was there every step of the way and recounts in brilliant detail how one of the most successful GAA inter-county teams ever to grace a pitch went from zeros to heroes.
2. Living on the Volcano (by Michael Calvin): Award-winning author Michael Calvin delivers another stunning book exposing the lives of famous and not-so-famous football managers based in England. Calvin talks candidly and provides a unique insight into the private lives of Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez and many others trying to survive the crazy, stress-filled world of football management.
3. A Season of Sundays (by Sportsfile): The best photographs from an incident-packed 2015 GAA season are captured by an award-winning team of photographers from the Sportsfile photographic agency. Now in its 19th year, the latest edition of ‘A Season of Sunday’s’ is a beautiful collection of photos that every GAA supporter will appreciate.
4. Until Victory Always (a memoir of Jim McGuinness by Keith Duggan): The Irish Times’ Keith Duggan is one of the finest GAA writers in the country and delivers a powerful memoir of former Donegal All-Ireland winning manager Jimmy McGuinness in his latest offering. This is a brilliantly written account on the highs and lows of McGuinness’ four years in charge of Donegal. Powerful, moving and uplifting, this is Keith Duggan at his absolute best.
5. Pulling the Strings (by Peter Stringer): The former Munster scrum-half played over 200 games for his province and was capped 98 times for Ireland before retiring from international rugby. Stringer tells the story of how he made his way into the Munster and Ireland starting 15 after his parents were told he was too small to be out on a rugby pitch as a youngster.
6. White Heat (by Tomás Ó Sé): The autobiography of former multiple All-Ireland winning Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé is a must-read for GAA fans inside and outside the Kingdom. One of Kerry’s longest-serving inter-county players recounts his (plus brothers Marc and Darragh’s) journey to All-Ireland glory whilst also paying homage to his enigmatic uncle, Páidi Ó Sé.
7. Man and Ball (by Stephen Ferris): Ferris left behind a full-time job paving driveways to become one of the most influential Ulster and Irish players of his generation back in 2005. A Lions, plus a 2009 Grand Slam, winner, Stephen Ferris tells the behind-the-scenes story of a lifetime dedicated to playing the game he loved before a horrific ankle injury cut short his playing career.
8. Dub Sub Confidential (by John Leonard): John Leonard would have been a household name as the starting Dublin goalkeeper during their recent Leinster and All-Ireland triumphs if he hadn’t had to play second fiddle to Stephen Cluxton. Leonard’s honest account of he overcame a drink and drugs problem coupled with his behind-the-scenes look at the massive machine that is Dublin GAA makes this a unique and interesting read.
9. AP McCoy – My Autobiography (by AP McCoy): The most successful jump-jockey of all time and one of the icons of horse racing tells his life story in his own inimitable way. AP McCoy rode over 4,000 winners and finally achieved his long-time goal of winning an Aintree Grand National back in 2010 to cap an unbelievable career. McCoy’s courage, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness shines through on every page in a riveting read.
10. Brady vs. Manning: The untold story of the rivalry that transformed the NFL (by Gary Myers): The story of how two of the greatest ever quarterbacks – Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos –
shaped one another’s careers and reenergised the NFL is brilliantly recounted by Gary Myers. The author interviews the two quarterbacks, their families, friends, fellow players and coaches and delivers a superb read that fans of American grid-iron will appreciate.
• Other titles worth checking out include Henry Shefflin – My Autobiography (GAA), No Borders by Tom English (rugby), The Bloodied Field by Michael Foley (GAA), A Man’s World by Donald McCrae (boxing) plus Eat and Run by Scott Jurek (running).