So as the year 2014 comes to a close, we decided to take a look at what shaped the year of sport, from a literary sense. From a vast number of potential entries, Campus.ie has selected the top 5 books of the sporting world for the year. See what you think, and if you haven’t read these already, then you better get cracking.
The Second Half: Roy Keane
When Roddy Doyle was announced as the ghost-writer for Keane’s second instalment in late 2013 and Alex Ferguson releasing his own autobiography with some harsh criticism for Keane around the same time, Irish sports fans were licking their lips at the prospect of what Keane would have to say in retaliation and how Doyle would go about setting the scene. And the former Manchester United captain’s thoughts on that were undoubtedly the biggest sports story of the week across all the newspapers.
However, what made this book great was the insight given by Keane into his own state of mind at times of controversy. He questions a certain outburst he made about former United assistant manager, Carlos Quieroz and his wife. Keane also gives arguably the most in depth insight into top-level management, detailing his time in the Sunderland hot seat. Keane’s latest instalment is a lot more than the rant everyone expected and is a must read for Irish sports fans.
The Test: Brian O'Driscoll
Another Irish legend and another autobiography shrouded in controversy. Well, kind of. One of Ireland’s most well renowned, controversial and talented writers, Paul Kimmage was commissioned with getting BOD’s fairytale career onto a page, but a bust up over the outside centre giving an interview to a rival of Kimmage’s Sunday Independent, meant the 600,000 words that had already been transcribed, would go to someone else. That someone being, the lesser known, Alan English of the Limerick Leader.
O’Driscoll tale is more easy reading than Keane’s, but nonetheless tales of insecurity, of whether he was good enough, the highs and the lows of arguably Irelands greatest ever sports person (The man above may have something to say about that), makes this autobiography an astounding success. It’s number one bestseller after all.
The Bloodied Field: Michael Foley:
Our contributor, Ben Finnegan gave his take on this book earlier in the month.
DIT journalism graduate, Michael Foley has done something incredible with this book. He has put in stone something that was misconstrued numerous times. But after years of research, many trips to the military archive in London, and to the National Archives on Bishop Street – Foley has produced a masterpiece of literature.
The unique thing about this book isn’t that it tells the events of that day. It tells the stories of the people involved in that day. The book starts off with Foley telling the story of Michael Hogan (one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, and whom the Hogan Stand is named after), his childhood in the bleak and unnaturally cold Aughvaneen of County Tipperary.
Night Games: Anna Krien:
So, for our first non-Irish inductee. A list of the top five sports books of 2014 could not have been complete without Anna Krien’s masterpiece – the winner of the coveted William Hill Sports Book of the Year, 2014. The story deals with the lurid, lad culture that seems to be rife among Australian football (Aussie rules) players.
Krien looks at a case of a low-profile Australian Football League player who has been charged with rape. In the past 10 years, there have been over 20 sexual assault cases taken against AFL players.
Krien gives an insight into sex, consent, power and sporting culture, as the William Hill prize gets awarded to another book exploring the trials and tribulations of sport.
KP: Kevin Pietersen:
I suppose dominating headlines is a good enough way of ensuring that your book is worth picking up and worth reading, and how does that generally work in the world of sport? Controversy. Pietersen released his autobiography in and around the same time as O’Driscoll and Keane.
Known for his arrogance, KP, having been sacked by the England national team early in the year, the South African born star uses the book as an opportunity for revenge, describing one team mate as worse than Judas. Judas eh, Kevin? What does that make you then?
Nonetheless, the story provides an understanding of what really went on in the England dressing room, and a lot more than KP are shed in an unflattering light.