The ten years since 1995, when speedway returned to Hull after a fourteen-year absence, have been a rollercoaster ride for the Vikings. A string of new owners oversaw successive periods of on-track success and failure, and closure often seemed imminent until the club finally succumbed in 2003. Bouncing back under Paul Hodder, the Vikings enjoyed their best ever season in 2004, winning the league title to herald in an exciting new era for the club and the city.
Charmed life, luck, tenacity, refusal to die – whatever – the first ten years at Craven Park have been anything but dull, and all this is brought to life in the second volume of Roger Hulbert’s history of the club, which like the first volume contains many quality photographs and all the relevant statistics to complement the narrative of Hull Speedway’s most recent era. It is an essential read for all fans of the club.
Felix White, for reasons often beyond him, has always been deeply in love with cricket. His passion for the game is at the fore on the BBC ‘s number one cricket podcast and 5Live show, Tailenders, which he co-presents with Greg James and Jimmy Anderson. It’s Always Summer Somewhere is his funny, heartbreaking and endlessly engaging love letter to the game.
Felix takes us through his life growing up in South West London and describes how his story is forever punctuated and given meaning by cricket. Through his own exploits as a slow left arm spinner of ‘lovely loopy stuff’, to the tragic illness of his mother, life with The Maccabees and his cricket redemption, Felix touches on both the comedic and the tragic in equal measure. Throughout, there’s the ever-present roller coaster of following the England cricket team. The exploits of Tufnell (another bowler of ‘lovely loopy stuff’), Atherton, Hussain et al, are given extra import through the eyes of a cricket-obsessed youth. Felix meets them at each signposted moment to find out what was really behind those moments that gave cricket fans everywhere sporting memories that would last forever, sending the book into an exploration of grief, transgenerational displacement and how the people we’ve known and things we’ve loved culminate and take expression in our lives.
It’s Always Summer Somewhere is an incredibly honest detail of a life lived with cricket. It offers a sense of genuine empathy and understanding not just with cricket fans, but sports and music fans across the world, in articulating our reasons for pouring so much meaning into something that we simply cannot control. Culminating in the heart-stopping World Cup Final in 2019, the book finally answers that question fans have so often asked… what is it about this game?
In 1974 the brilliant and controversial Brian Clough made perhaps his most eccentric decision: he accepted the Leeds United Manager’s job. As successor to Don Revie, his bitter adversary, he was to last only fourty-four days. In one of the most acclaimed novels of this or any other year, David Peace takes un into the mind and thoughts of Ol’ Big ‘Ead himself, and brings vividly to life one of post-war Britain’s most complex and fascinating characters.
Years after his retirement, Ken Wagstaff remains a massive icon with fans at former clubs Mansfield Town and Hull City. A prolific goal scorer, he terrorised English defences for fifteen years, amassing 303 career goals in 625 appearances. At various times he was tipped for international honours and coveted by top managers including Brian Clough, but England eluded him and he ended up cementing his hero status at Boothferry Park by ending his career there, his partnership with Chris Chilton becoming the stuff of legends.