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From Light to Dark The Story of Blind Dave Heeley By Dave Heeley & Sophie Parkes

Release date: 01st March, 2016
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £14.88
You Save: £2.11 (12%)
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2016 has been a year of inspirational sports books, about which more in a second, but it’s also been a good ‘un for sporting levity. We open with two of the funniest.

In May, Dan Waddell published We Had Some Laughs, an extremely funny biography of his father, the irrepressible Sid. Waddell senior became as famous for his darts knowledge as for his broad Geordie accent, his Cambridge scholarship and his wonderful phraseology.

Observations such as: "This game of darts is twisting like a rattlesnake with a hernia," were supplemented with well-planned lines like, “There's no one quicker than these two tungsten tossers,” or “Even Hypotenuse would have trouble working out these angles.” Brilliant.

Last month, Tim Moore published details of his latest cycling escapade, The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold, the tale of a fifty-something’s 10,000 kilometre ride along the old Iron Curtain.

This is an epic, hugely amusing journey made on a folding bike with no gears, enlivened by Moore’s pin-point-accurate observations and engaging style. Perfect Christmas fare.

At the age of ten, Dave Heeley, who co-authored From Light To Dark with Sophie Parkes, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. A consultant eye specialist clarified what the phrase meant: “You’re going blind,” he said.

As a child, Heeley ran and played football but was forced to abandon both; it was only later in life that he caught the running bug and started tackling longer distances.

After completing his first London marathon, he was accosted by a reporter who asked what is was like to run the marathon blind.

“Well,” replied Dave, “I started the marathon blind; I finished it blind and knackered.” Such matter-of-fact responses define the man. This is an outstanding book; one that inspires the reader to try, in some small way, to emulate the feats of its incredible co-author.

Sean Conway, who wrote Cycling the Earth, once dreamt of becoming a National Geographic photographer but ended up taking snaps of nursery-aged children. On the eve of his 30th birthday, his girlfriend dumped him.

What’s a man to do? Circumnavigate the world on two wheels of course.

Conway offers another great example of what folks can do once they put their mind to something. He’s another ordinary guy who embarked upon an extraordinary quest, characteristics that make his book so compelling.

Rory Smith’s Mister, the tale of the “men who taught the world how to beat England at their own game”, is the fascinating story of British football coaches who tried their hand abroad.

The book is stuffed full with marvellous anecdotes, including a conversation between Sir Richard Turnbull, the penultimate governor of Aden and Denis Healy, then Britain’s defence secretary, which took place in the mid-1960s.

“When the British Empire finally sinks beneath the waves,” Turnbull told Healy, “it will leave behind only two monuments: the game of association football and the expression ‘f*** off’.” How prescient Turnbull’s words proved to be.

Finally, Oliver Kay, probably Britain’s best sports journalist, published his first book this year.

Forever Young is the story of Adrian Doherty, a teenage winger who once eclipsed Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, who was offered a five-year contract by Sir Alex Ferguson when he was just 17, who stood on the cusp of a glittering career before serious injury put paid to that. He died, aged just 26, after falling into a canal in Holland. Poignant and beautifully written, this is one of the best sports book of the year.

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