Category Archives: Sports News

William Hill Sports Book of the Year – The longlist


Love sport? Love books? Meet the #WHSBOTY longlist…

Bloomsbury Spot are delighted to have two books longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Rob Steen’s Floodlights and Touchlines is a superb social history of sport and Bill Jones’s book Alone tells the story of the life and tragic early death of John Curry, one of the most famous ice skaters in history.

Congratulations to Rob Steen and Bill Jones, as well as all the authors nominated.

9781408152157 9781408853429

World Congress of Cycling Science

Cycling ScienceAre Tour de France champions born or made? Should cyclists strength train? How can pain become gain? What are the real benefits of contemporary sports nutrition? And – bottom line – can sports science help make race winners?

These are a few of the questions that a gathering of world leading sports scientists, coaches and medical practitioners aim to address at the UCI-endorsed 2nd World Congress of Cycling Science at the Rose Bowl in Leeds from Wednesday 2nd to Thursday 3rd of July, just days before the city hosts the Grand Depart of the Tour de France (Saturday 5th July).

The conference is organised by the University of Kent’s School of Sports and Exercise Science, which is headed by Professor Louis Passfield and Dr James Hopker, two of Great Britain’s leading names in the field. The conference has so far attracted representatives from the likes of UCI Pro Tour teams Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Francais des Jeux, Movistar and Omega Pharma Quickstep.

Integrating the various aspects of coaching, sports science, medicine, technology and performance, the Congress will provide a forum for the discussion of performance enhancement with a focus on the Tour itself. Speakers and participants include former riders turned coaches Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp) and Marco Pinotti (BMC Pro Cycling Team), with other special guests to be announced.

As part of the Congress SRM are sponsoring a Keynote presentation where Uli Schoberer and a current Pro Tour rider (tbc), will discuss the use of power meters in professional cycling. SRM will also be exhibiting PowerMeters, PowerControls and cycle ergometers at the Congress.

Professor Passfield, previously a sports scientist with the Great Britain Cycling Team, said that the aim of the conference is “to further the use of science in cycling and to help share relevant information with coaches and sports scientists. The conference programme is designed to stimulate and inspire future collaboration and research-informed practice for the benefit of a new generation of cyclists”.

Further information about the Congress, speakers and how to book is available at Alongside the Congress, there will also be a free evening event for up to 250 members of the public on the Thursday evening. Further information on the evening event and to book a place visit

Dr James Hopker is the author of Performance Cycling.


Sports Calender: June

How is it June already?! Fortunately, there’s plenty of sport to help keep you entertained while you get over the shock of it almost being midsummer’s day…

12th-16th First Test Match England v Sri Lanka
20th-24th Second Test Match England v Sri Lanka

9th-15th Aegeon Championship Queen’s Club, Baron’s Court, London
23rd-6th July Wimbledon Championships, Wimbledon

12th-15th US Open, Pinehurst, North Carolina

8th Canadian Grand Prix
22nd Austrian Grand Prix
14th-15th Le Mans 24hr

12-13th July
2014 FIFA World Cup, Brasil

15th Cartier Queens Cup, Windsor Great Park


Ever wondered a bit about the history of professional sport and the ingredients that magnetise millions around the globe? Well, if you fancy a spot of reading about the marvels of spectator sport, then look no further than Floodlights and Touchlines. It tells the stories that matter: from the gladiators of Rome to the runners of Rift Valley via the innovator-missionaries of Rugby School; from multi-faceted British exports to the Americanisation of professionalism and the Indianisation of cricket. Rob Steen traces the development of these sports which captivate the turnstile millions and the mouse-clicking masses, addressing their key themes and common links, from creation myths to match fixing via race, politics, sexuality and internationalism.

If you don’t believe me, why not read some of the great reviews it’s received already…

In his deftly-written and engrossing new book, Rob Steen reminds us again why, beneath the floodlights and along the touchlines, sport has consumed so many of us for so long. It’s as compelling as your favourite sporting memory – and more informative and amusing.
Donald McRae, The Guardian

Rob Steen is the wittiest and most astringent English-language sportswriter. And this book provides a brilliant narrative of spectator sport. Internationalist, progressive, cosmopolitan, yet earthy, it is an instant classic.
Toby Miller, author of SportSex

I believe that you will never fully understand the game behind the game without reading Floodlights and Touchlines. Rob Steen is the perfect guide to take you through this remarkable history.
Dr John Carlos, 1968 Olympian, medal stand protester

Rob Steen’s intoxication with sport’s dramatic qualities, his familiarity with the sporting scene on both sides of the Atlantic and his writing verve all shine through in this penetrating study.
Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times

Rob’s obstinate belief that sport and thought are not incompatible is an inspiration to us all.
Simon Barnes, Chief Sportswriter for The Times

Floodlights and Touchlines is a triumph. People who dismiss sports as mindless entertainment need to read this. People who love sports but find their ardor doesn’t extend beyond the numbers, need to read this as well. The sports world is better for its publication.
Dave Zirin, Sports Editor of The Nation and author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil

Floodlights and Touchlines: Out now

Floodlights and Touchlines: Out now

For more info, or if you want to get your hands on a copy to read in between world cup matches and the tennis, click here.


Sporting Calender: April

Happy April, everyone. Hope you’ve all survived April Fools day. Who knew the Bloomsbury Sport’s ski trip to Holland was just a ruse?!

Starting this month, Bloomsbury Sport will be aiming to keep you up to date with the month’s upcoming sports events, with maybe the cheeky odd plug for some of our great sports titles. And it’s a bumper month to start with; April literally showers us with sports…


5th Grand National, Aintree

6th The Boat Race, Putney to Mortlake

6th Paris Marathon
13th London Marathon

10th-13th The Masters, AugustaGolfTeeGrass
Ever wondered what golf would have been like back in the day? Written in 1914, Batchelor’s Golf Stories pre-dates the Masters, evoking the inherent wit, intemperance and pratfalls of golf.

6th Bahrain Grand Prix
20th Chinese Grand Prix

6th World Twenty20 Final, Mirpur, Bangladesh
We don’t like cricket … We love it. Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack 2014 has just published, so make sure you get yourself a copy of this yellow bundle of cricketing joy.

FA Cup Semi  Finals, Wembley1197103862376117882Gioppino_Soccer_Ball.svg.hi

19th -5th May World Championship, The Crucible

Wimbledon: A Spectator’s View

Guest post by Anna MacDiarmid, Specialist Editorial Intern

With Wimbledon now over, and Britain’s Andy Murray declared the winner of the coveted golden trophy, I wanted to look back to the very beginning, and relive the events that occurred on Court 1 on the 24th July.

Two weeks ago I finally got my day at Wimbledon, day one of The Championship on Court 1, and what a day it was.

wimbledon 1
The weather on the morning was not great and rain is always a possibility in the British climate, even when the sun is shining. So with sun cream, umbrella, blanket and picnic packed we headed off to Wimbledon.

After familiarizing ourselves with the club and most importantly getting our free voucher for strawberries and cream (finally, a benefit to being an HSBC customer) we made our way to our seats.

First on court was Victoria Azarenka vs. Maria Koehler. This was the match I was looking forward to least – Azarenka’s war cry starts to grate on most people after a while. There were some good points in the women’s game, but Azarenka dominated from the start, and her opponent did not put up much of a fight. However, this match did have some drama. Part way through the second set Azarenka let out an almighty scream and the crowd gave a collective gasp of shock. Azarenka was down, one slightly skewed turn and she twisted her knee. While she did go onto win the match, she was limping around the court. Her opponent should have used that to her advantage and sent her running, but she didn’t. The next day Azarenka pulled out; her competition was at an end.
wimbledon 2
Next on court was a match that I was very excited about, Rafael Nadal vs. Steve Darcis. Nadal is one of tennis’ greats and I was looking forward to seeing him play. Everyone expected him to wipe the floor with Darcis – I for one had never heard of his opponent. I was looking forward to seeing Nadal’s trademark power dominating the match from the baseline.

The tennis was fantastic from the start. As Darcis took the lead in the first set, everyone was incredulous; we were fully expecting Nadal to win in straight sets. Credit to both players, Nadal was not playing poorly at all – admittedly nowhere near his best, but you do not expect that in the first round of a tournament. Darcis was just playing better, he was getting the crucial points and he was playing as though he had nothing to loose. Okay, we thought, Nadal has lost the first set. That’s nothing. He has come back from far worse situations.

I found myself cheering on Darcis, the pluckiness and the style with which he was wearing down Nadal was just too good to not roar in delight at. When he took the second set, the crowd was in a state of disbelief. But still, Nadal has come back from 2 sets down many a time. No one was putting him out of the tournament until match point was won! But Darcis kept going, he was unstoppable; where many unseeded players might crumble under the pressure of serving out a match against a player such as Nadal, Darcis did not flinch. When the final point was played, only then did the crowd accept Nadal’s loss, and they went wild. I did feel sorry for Nadal, he looked very forlorn as he walked off the court to face a pounding from the press about his injury and tennis future. Darcis of course was jumping for joy, and rightly so; he had pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament.

wimbledon 3
I was sad when Darcis pulled out the next day due to a shoulder injury; I wanted to know how he would progress. Would he be a one hit wonder like so many unseeded players that knock out the greats?

Next up on court was former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt vs. 10th seed Stanilas Wawrinka. This was expected to be THE match of the day. Hewitt’s career has been plagued by injury, but he still has so much grit and determination left in him. He is a joy to watch, and after reaching the semi-final at Queen’s the previous week, he was definitely on top form. Wawrinka is another fabulous player, with one of the best single-handed backhands on the tour.

After the epic match we had just been treated to, I honestly felt exhausted, and I think the crowd felt the same. It was as though the energy had been sapped out of the stadium, and while the next two players were rushed on, I think the crowd was only half paying attention for the first thirty minutes. Hewitt was having absolutely none of that; always a crowd pleaser, he was revving up his audience. He had his own little group of Australian fans dressed up and ready with rehearsed chants to egg their hero on. Hewitt loved it.

Wawrinka was the favorite to win this match, as the highest seed, but that meant nothing to a crowd who had just watched Nadal get knocked out by ‘a nobody’. Hewitt is very far from ‘a nobody’, so it could swing either way. From the beginning of the match Wawrinka didn’t seem to be there. He was making many unforced errors and his famous backhand was failing to live up to expectations. Hewitt of course took advantage of this and battered down his opponent. By the end of the first set the crowd was in full swing, and I can say the majority were definitely supporting the old Wimbledon hero. It was majestic to watch, Wawrinka upped his game a lot in the 2nd and 3rd set, but it was just not enough. Hewitt was being carried along by the crowd, and loving every second of it. When he won I was left feeling all warm and bubbly inside. The BBC website ended its Wimbledon commentary with a quote I thought perfectly described the feeling in the stands: ‘As the sun sets on the first day of The Championships, an old Wimbledon flame burns bright’. As I left, my vision was clouded with idealism – I could see him going all the way.

Two days later Hewitt’s dream was over. That meant that all 6 players we had seen that day were now out. A small superstitious part of me worried that we had jinxed the players. But really it just goes to show that nothing in tennis, or sport, can be taken for granted. This year has been the year of shock exits, with Federer going out in the second round and Serena Williams in the fourth. They were preceded by an array of injury drop-outs from some of the best players, including Tsonga and Cilic. These top players know that they cannot take anything for granted so they take care of their bodies and they will all be back next year, stronger than ever, I am sure.

So this year we celebrate two brand new Wimbledon winners, Marion Bartoli and Andy Murray; let us hope they both go on to win many more titles.

Can you beat Bloomsbury Sport at Fantasy Cycling?

Tour de France 2013

Vive le Tour!

For 3 weeks of the year, every year, I become obsessed. The blinkers are on and all I can think about is the Tour de France. It truly is one of the greatest of tests of sporting endurance – of true grit and determination. This year, the 100th running of the Tour, the riders will cover a staggering 3,404 kilometres with 7 flat stages, 5 hilly, and 6 mountain stages, including an unprecedented double ascent of the merciless Alpe D’Huez.

Stage profile

Those pointy bits look mighty steep.

But I’m not alone in my admiration of this great race, Team Sport at Bloomsbury are all keen cycling fans. And for this reason, we’ve set up a Fantasy Cycling league, that we’d like to invite you to join. (It’s like Fantasy Football – but better!)

All you need to do is pick your dream team at, join our league Bloomsbury Sport – Cycling, and see whether you can take on the fantasy cycling genius of Bloomsbury Sport’s: Maglia Charlo, L’Equipe Kirsty, Nick la Bomba and Allez Coley.

Do you think you can beat Bloomsbury Sport at Fantasy Cycling?

Who will be in your dream team?

No Wiggo this year, so who will be in your dream team?

Need some help with your team choices? Look no further than Bloomsbury Sport’s Top Tips for the Tour

Ones to watch:

  • Chris ‘the Froominator’ Froome has been in stellar form this season, taking victories at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine. He’ll be looking to emulate his teammate Sir Brad’s yellow jersey victory last year to become the second Briton to win Le Tour.
  • Alberto Contador, Froome’s ‘biggest threat’, is a two-time winner of the Tour de France.
  • Vicenzo Nibali won the Maglia Rosa in the Giro d’Italia – could he make this a double? A feat no one has achieved since 1998.
  • Andy Schleck is making his return to la Grande Boucle following a pelvis fracture in 2012,which prevented him from racing. Good form at the Tour de Suisse means we shouldn’t underestimate him.
  • Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile, will be targeting his first yellow jersey in the Corsican stages, bt his main aim will beto win back the green jersey from…
  • Peter Sagan, the 23-year-old sprinting star, claimed three stage wins and the green jersey in 2012. Can he do it again?

Fans will be please to know that El Diablo will be returning for Le Tour 100.

The Tour de France gets underway in Corsica on Saturday 29 June. We’ll be ramping up our coverage in the days before then and during Le Tour so be sure to check back regularly for all the latest news and competitions from Bloomsbury Sport.

Or follow us on Twitter: @BloomsburySport

3 Bloomsbury Books Shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards

Bloomsbury are proud to announce that we have three books on the shortlist for the British Sport Book Awards. The three books to be shortlisted are:

Best Illustrated Book
Coppi by Herbie Sykes

Best New Writer
Sit Down and Cheer by Martin Kelner

Best Cricket Book
We’ll Get ’Em in Sequins by Max Davidson

The winner for each category will be announced on Tuesday 21st May 2013 – fingers crossed!

97814081816699781408129234 9781408145951

Last night’s controversial red card decision – our expert referee speaks!

In light of the controversy surrounding the Manchester United v Real Madrid match last night and the sending off of Nani by referee Cuneyt Cakir, we asked Keith Hackett, author of You are the Ref: a Guide to Good Refereeing for his reaction. It makes fascinating reading, and raises a number of points not currently being discussed in the media.

Keith writes:

‘There are clearly two standards of Law interpretation operating between English officials and the rest of Europe. In European games there is a lower tolerance level for the ‘raised boot’ challenge which will be punished with either a yellow card (Reckless) or red card if the Referee deems it to be serious foul play. English teams therefore have to adapt to these differences in law interpretation.

If the challenge in the game last night was met with a swift yellow card no one would have complained. The referee however decided to give himself a lot of thinking time and may have consulted with his colleagues to receive their view before surprising the majority of spectators by issuing a red card. Our coaching of Referees at the top level is to advise that we do not want any surprises of this type, and UEFA continue to hold regular training camps for Referees. Through the use of video clips we aim to get uniformity of decision making involving all Referees.

However, the question I pose is what homework did the clubs do on the Referee? If they had done their research then they would have understood the high probability of a red card from this referee in particular. He demonstrates great courage on the BIG decisions – that is why he is rated highly amongst his peers.

You are the Ref: A Guide to Good Refereeing covers in detail the law on foul challenges. Managers. Coaches Referees and Spectators should purchase a copy!’

Keith Hackett  is a former international referee and now  General Manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) –  the referee’s governing body and, is the Referee Ambassador for the FA, Premier League and UEFA.

Paul Trevillion, renowned artist and illustrator provides the stunning images.


Top 10 Weird Sports (continued…)

Okay, we won’t keep you in suspense anymore. Here’s the second half of the top 10 wackiest and weirdest sports…

(And don’t forget to click on the pics for action videos.)

5. Bog snorkelling

Started in Wales in (surprise surprise) the Seventies, supposedly as a result of a conversation in a pub (as most new sports probably are), bog snorkelling involves racing through a flooded trench dug into a peat bog about 60 yards long, and then racing back again. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Competitors must wear a snorkel and flippers and aren’t allowed to try to swim. Wetsuits are not mandatory, but are probably advisable.bog

4. Cheese rolling

cheese-rolling-raceA round of Double Gloucester cheese is given a one second head start down Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds. Hundreds of people charge down after it. The winner is the first one to the bottom of the hill, or the person who catches up with the cheese. But seeing as it reaches speeds of up to 70mph, that never happens. The prize is the cheese, and international fame. You might not want the cheese, given where it’s been. In 1993, 15 people were injured, 4 of them seriously. Organisers received death threats in 2011 after trying to charge a high entry fee, supposedly to try and reduce the number of competitors to comply with the health and safety laws that saw the 2010 event cancelled.

 3. Running of the bulls

Because as every real man knows, it ain’t a real sport unless something bleeds. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, with the encierro at Pamplona in Spain now the best known, bull-running involves penning a bunch of bulls in the streets and then letting them run wild whilst a bunch of idiot humans run in front of them and try to avoid getting gored. The path leads to the bull-ring, where the bulls are tortured until they collapse the following day whilst the same idiot humans whoop and cheer. Over a dozen of these idiot humans have been killed by the bulls at Pamplona in the last century. The heart bleeds. Theirs, mainly. Ours, only sarcastically.

bull running

 2. Tossing the caber

tossing_caberPerhaps the most emblematic event of the Highland Games, tossing the caber secretly impresses us weedy Sassenachs, but it still amounts to chucking a bit of a tree around. The caber is typically an almost-20ft-long pole made of larch that weighs about 80kg. The aim of tossing it is not just to achieve distance, but to have it land perfectly. The top of the caber should land nearest to the thrower, so the caber can’t just be pushed up into the air and allowed to fall. Ideally it should come to lie at exactly twelve o’clock to the thrower. He loses points the further it lands from this sweetspot, and if the caber doesn’t turn over in the air. The person throwing the caber is called a tosser. No comment.

 1. Chess boxing

But surely the weirdest sport currently played is chess boxing. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Competitors play six rounds of chess in the ring, interspersed with five rounds of boxing – if both competitors last that long. Having the strongest fist won’t necessarily secure victory here. Competitors need to be equally skilled with their knights and bishops, because chess boxing matches can be won either way. The sport is currently enjoying an explosion in popularity, though the first proper matches weren’t held until 2003. Interestingly, chess boxing first appeared in 1992 – in the pages of a comic book. Islington Boxing Club

Guest post by Jonathan Eyers. Follow his blog at

Top 10 Weird and Wacky Sports

We freely admit in Team Sport at Bloomsbury that we’ve published a fair few books on a plethora of sports from around the world, and there’s plenty more in the offing. But we got a-thinking about what weird and wacky sports there were out there. We may not be planning to publish books about them, but here’s our resident satirical sports-writer, Jonathan Eyers with a list of his top 10 weird ‘sports’.

(And click on the images if you want to see some of these crazy sports in action.)


10. Cup stacking

Almost exclusively a pastime of preteen Americans, this ‘sport’ involves laying out rows of plastic cups, stacking more rows on top of them, and then dismantling the stacks again – all as quickly and as accurately as possible. Penalties for knocking over your stack include death (not really). Clearly America will make a competition out of anything, including preparing their kids for careers in the service industry. Incidentally, competitive eating (surely also the sole preserve of Americans) would be at number 11 on this list.

Cup stacking

9. Birdman rallies

ico-birdman1They might call these eccentric/embarrassing (delete as appropriate) spectacles Flugtags now to try and convince the world they are a German invention, but the first birdman rally was held in Britain in 1971. Actually, it’s not hard to imagine the grey-faced, red-flared, Seventies breed of Brit showing up to watch someone throw themselves off the pier, given the mass unemployment, three-day week, power outages and regular strikes. As with everything else, some people take it all far too seriously, and the most hardcore of enthusiasts can reach over 100ft in their human-powered craft. Points are won both for distance and entertainment value. A bit like boxing.

8. Kabaddi

Kabaddi is the Tamil word for ‘holding hands’, but the key thing about this 4,000-year-old sport from the Indian subcontinent is actually holding your breath. Described by some as a bizarre mix of wrestling and rugby (without a ball), it sounds more like one of those games we played as kids that involved charging at each other. Two teams of seven take turns to be on the offensive and defensive. Each controls half the court. The team on the offensive sends a raider onto the other side of the court to knock out (not literally) as many opponents as he can. The catch is that the raider must hold his breath until he is back on his own side, and the defenders will be doing everything they can to stop him getting there before he runs out of air.


7. Wife-carrying

This bizarre sport originated in Finland, which holds the international championships every year. Male competitors must carry their wives over a 253.5m obstacle course, and the winning couple is the one that finishes it in the fastest time. Fortunately for those husbands whose wives are not enthusiastic about being heaved through the mandatory pool of water, it doesn’t have to be your own wife. However, she must weigh at least 49kg, or she has to wear a rucksack for added weight. Wives can be carried piggyback, over the shoulder or ‘Estonian style’ – the wife hangs upside down with her legs over her husband’s shoulders whilst she holds onto his waist. All other sports could learn one thing from wife-carrying – the official rules require all competitors to enjoy themselves.


 6. Ferret legging

ferret legging Another product of the Seventies (remember, they didn’t have the internet and there were only three TV channels back then), this endurance sport came from Yorkshire, where it was popular with coal miners. Its popularity has waned in recent years, perhaps because it’s considered slightly cruel to trap two live ferrets down an old bumpkin’s trousers for five and a half hours (the world record). Winning at ferret-legging simply entails not letting the things out before any of your fellow competitors. The former world champion used to wear white trousers to better show off all the blood that the biting, scratching beasts extracted from his legs and… other places. They sure don’t breed ’em like that down here in’t south.

To be continued …


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