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Googlies, Nutmegs and Bogeys by Bob Wilson

Release date: 01st October, 2006
Publisher: Icon Books Ltd

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £5.99
You Save: £4 (40%)
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Googlies, Nutmegs and Bogeys
By Bob Wilson
Icon Books
4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £5.99, saving 40% on rrp


You may imagine that the publishing world would pride itself on its originality; of all Britain's industries, surely here is one that begs to be different, but the truth is, publishing is like any other business which stands or falls by the amount of money it makes.

This simple economic fact accounts for a succession of publishing micro-trends, any number of which can be spotted every year. When publishers endeavour to do something different by making diversions into a particular genre, the industry looks on, fascinated by its economic (rather than literary) consequences.

Hence, following the success of people like Delia Smith and, more recently, Jamie Oliver, the shelves of our largest booksellers are weighed down by 'celebrity chef' cookbooks. Similarly, Lynne Truss's success with Eats, Shoots and Leaves has led to several other wordsmiths and some downright fussy sorts knocking together books which are, in effect, variations on the economically successful Truss theme.

Sport has long been an area where books of genuine statistical merit such as the Sky Sport Football Yearbook have been 'supplemented' by others of questionable worth. The plethora of league guides and handbooks are no substitute for the genuine article. Similarly, anyone wishing to read a collection of funny sporting quotes should refer to Frank Keating's Caught by Keating, published in 1979. Everything else is a copy, not as though that stops publishers churning out books containing quotes from all sorts of sports, from hang-gliding to speed skating, the appeal and content of which is decidedly limited.

More recently, sports fans have been inundated with books that cobble together the sort of one line facts that might come in handy at a pub quiz. These are notoriously difficult to get right as after a few pages, it generally becomes evident that the author has used all kinds of less relevant 'filler' material to fit his allotted number of pages.

Occasionally, however, an author gets its spot on, which is what Bob Wilson has done with Googlies, Nutmegs and Bogeys, a light-hearted, but nonetheless authoritative look at the origins of our obscure sporting language.

Unlike cheaply-produced 'pub quiz' one-liners, Wilson provides explanations, the vast majority of which are fascinating. It helps enormously that these are complemented by a succession of amusing anecdotes from the author's sporting and television career, which saves the text from being a bald collection of facts.

So, for example, he tells us why the Argentine rugby side became known as the Pumas when in fact, the crest on their shirts depicts a jaguar; this can be attributed to a journalist's poor wildlife knowledge. And did you know what a 'bed and breakfast' darts shot is? It's the one where, when aiming for three triple twenties, you manage a one, a five and a twenty instead.

With impeccable timing, Wilson provides us with plausible theories regarding the origin of the word 'sledging', the constant barracking of batsmen beloved by Australian cricketers. He develops his theme by going on to provide the reader with some of the funniest examples, not all of which can be printed in a family newspaper.

The former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper has taken a sporting theme and developed it with a style not normally seen in such collections. It's meant as a one-off; let's hope it remains that way.

One final point: royalties from the book will go to the Willow Foundation, the charity established by the Wilsons in memory of their daughter, Anna, who died from cancer aged
31.


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