Va­ri­ety and qual­ity of writ­ing makes this a per­fect gift

Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT -

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.

ALAN AH­ERNE

Visit The Book Cen­tre on Wex­ford’s Main Street for the very best se­lec­tion of sports books.

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