Variety and quality of writing makes this a perfect gift
IT’S SUCH a simple concept, and it works so well; after reading ‘On The Seventh Day - Thirty Years of Great Sports Writing From The Sunday Independent’, the only question to be asked is: why didn’t they think of this sooner?
The newspaper industry may be struggling like never before, but a large proportion of the population still enjoys setting aside some time at the weekend to be entertained by the written word.
And for sports enthusiasts, there’s nothing better than sitting down and getting stuck into a meaty interview or an opinion piece that is guaranteed to delight some and inflame the passions of others.
In that regard, the ‘Sunday Independent’ has always been well served by its stable of writers. I don’t always agree with the views they espouse, but I always enjoy the manner in which they’re expressed, and that, to me, is the key to accomplished writing.
The newspaper’s sports editor, Longford man John Greene, has delved into the archives and picked out a lengthy list of the more accomplished pieces that appeared in print since the late 1980s.
It’s an eclectic mix, with 48 chapters in total featuring contributions from 23 writers.
And the beauty of a book of this nature is that the reader can dip in and out of it in whatever way they choose.
For example, if you’re a big fan of one particular journalist, then the trick is to flick through the pages and read his or her contributions first.
Alternatively, it’s possible to completely ignore an author and still not lose a full sense of the book’s overall quality.
Others might prefer to focus on the writing related to their favourite sport first, but in my case I decided not to break the habit of a lifetime so I read it from cover to cover.
The diversity of the contributions, both in terms of style deployed and subject matter covered, meant that it held my attention from start to finish.
And I enjoyed jumping from one sport to the next, even those that normally wouldn’t float my boat.
My two favourite writers in the ‘Sunday Independent’ sports section are Joe Brolly and Eamonn Sweeney, both of whom know how to stir the pot while having no fear of expressing an opinion that might be left of centre.
There’s a mischievious side to their work too, and, like all essential writing, it’s provocative and entertaining in equal measure.
Their contributions to this compilation are among my favourites, but I was also given a timely reminder of Eamon Dunphy’s talent with the written word.
He may have lost relevance with some of those television outbursts over the years, but when he was on the ‘Sindo’ team he produced some memorable pieces.
One in particular, taking a close look at Jack Charlton and his eccentricities, is the stand-out chapter for me in this publication.
At this time of year, The Book Centre is crowded with present-hunters, and invariably the traffic is particularly busy around the sports section.
I would recommend this one highly as a nice present for a sports fan of any vintage or preference, because - while it was never intended to be a history of the past 30 years - it still covers most of the big events of the era, with some touching human stories thrown in for good measure.
With over 370 pages to digest, it does a fine job in capturing the wonderful world of sport in its various forms.
Visit The Book Centre on Wexford’s Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.