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Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



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Lost in France By Spencer Vignes

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

List Price: £8.99
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When picking sides at school, the boys chosen to keep goal were almost always amongst the last to be selected. They remained against the wall usually because their peers considered them less competent footballers, though this wasn’t always the case.

Had an amendment to the game’s laws not been introduced in June 1912 on the suggestion of football’s Rules Review Committee, it seems likely that the goalkeeper’s importance, even to 7-year-olds picking their sides for a lunchtime kickabout, would have been considerably more apparent. That the amendment was approved was due in no small part to Leigh Roose, the footballing superstar of whom you’ve never heard.

Great praise is due to author Spencer Vignes for bringing Roose’s story to life and for persisting following an unexpected setback that prolonged the book’s gestation period by nine years.

Football fans will consider the wait worthwhile for Lost in France is a genuinely compelling tale of Leigh Roose, an innovative goalkeeper who rose to fame initially at Aberystwyth University before his ability was spotted – and coveted – by clubs such as Everton, Sunderland and Arsenal, as well as the Welsh selectors.

In pre-World War I days, football was a rough-and-tumble sport, one in which centre forwards were encouraged to crash into the goalkeeper, a legitimate tactic designed to send man and ball into the back of the net. Roose reacted to such treatment, preferring to ‘get his revenge in first’ by smashing into any forwards foolish enough to get in his way.

Fans loved this new way of playing; the ladies were particularly keen on watching Roose – and he them. His reputation and antics as a womaniser could have filled another book.

Like millions of others, Roose’s life was swamped by the Great War and he went off to fight for King and Country. At Gallipoli in 1915, he was listed as ‘missing, presumed dead’, but his bravery and tenacity were evident again at the Battle of the Somme more than a year later where he was awarded the Military Medal. He would fall at the Somme, though a simple spelling mistake meant that for almost 90 years his family were unaware of the circumstances of his death.

Leigh Roose is one of that rare breed: a man who was partly responsible for effecting a change to football’s rules. But he was also a well-rounded character, one unlikely to put up with being left against the wall when his schoolmates picked their lunchtime teams.


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