Talking publishing, writing, selling and reading in our sports book round-up.
Sell it in a tweet: 25 years of Irish sports fandom packed into one ridiculous, illuminating book. A guide to being an Irish sports fan and a guide to being Irish.
What made you write it: We’ve been covering Irish sport pretty closely for five years. We’ve learned a lot about Irish sport fans along the way. And as it turns out, Irish sports fans are underserved in terms of published material that speaks to the bizarre and sublime sporting events we’ve all lived through since Italia ’90.
Best line: Never before have Ireland’s two great passions - sport and the Eurovision - been fused in a marriage as beautiful of that of Johnny Logan and Bohs
Favourite story: That’s like picking your favourite kid. Either ’100 GAA Cliches’ or the ’Power Rankings of Every Priest on Father Ted’ or the ’Spirit Animals of Famous Irish Rugby Players’
Who is the real hero: The true heroes of Irish sport since 1990: Simon Geoghegan and Gary Breen
Who comes out worst: Probably the two lads who streaked at a Leinster Senior Cup game a few years back. Their moment of madness has been immortalised forever in book form.
Book this is most like: A sports annual written by Con Houlihan’s Twitter-addicted protegé.
Book this is least like: Every other sports book being published in Ireland this year
Where should we read it? Everywhere that important books are read: on trains, planes, in bed and on the toilet
What will the book change your mind about: Hill 16. We’ve found photo evidence of the time that the Archbishop of Cashel, Bertie Ahern and the Lord Mayor of Dublin consecrated the Hill following its re-opening in 2005. Only in Ireland.
By Donny Mahoney of Balls.ie
1. The Autobiography by Henry Shefflin
2. My Story by Steven Gerrard
3. Leading by Alex Ferguson
Hodder & Stoughton
4. The Test by Brian O’Driscoll
5. The Second Half by Roy Keane & Roddy Doyle
6. Dub Sub Confidential: A Goalkeeper’s Life by John Leonard
7. Jimmy Doyle:Boy Wonder of Hurling by Diarmuid O’Flynn
Sliabh Ban Productions
8. The New Breed::Irish Rugby’s Professional Era by Patrick McCarry
9. No Borders: Playing Rugby for Ireland by Tom English
10. In My Own Words:The Autobiography by Paul Galvin
Figures from Nielsen Ireland
On his website donaldmcrae.com, Steven Gerrard’s ghost delivers an intriguiging insight into the process.
First, he and Gerrard met to make plans:
"Gerrard said that he had done his homework on me and my past books. He thought we could do something fresh and different. I felt the same and so it was an easy decision to make. We would go for it and both of us felt that a year of work would help us reach somewhere deeper than a conventional sporting biography."
Then the bombshell from the publisher: you’ve got 15 weeks.
“If we included that very Tuesday it meant that we had exactly 100 days to discuss, research and write a book of around 150,000 words in length. At the same time Steven Gerrard would be engulfed by the most emotional few months of his life as he prepared to say goodbye to the club he would always love
"I got home that night and, after telling my family how much I’d liked Gerrard, I railed against the economics of modern publishing. It felt to me as if we might as well be selling shoes – rather than books. Maybe you could design and produce a pair of sensible shoes in fifteen weeks. But write a book? I thought it was impossible.
Here, experience helped:
"I knew that, when the mood took me or a deadline loomed, I could write 3,000 words a day. 150,000 words in fifty days no longer seemed quite so implausible."
And Gerrard proved helpful too
"He would give me all the time I needed and he’d allow me to structure and write the book I saw in my head – while we agreed that, once it was written, he would then go over each line, and every word, in painstaking detail.
"In the weeks and months that followed I interviewed Steven Gerrard again and again in diverse locations from Raheem Sterling’s old house to a glass room at Formby golf club, from home to a Liverpool hotel boardroom, from Melwood to Crewe, the night before his very last game, his 710th, for Liverpool. It felt as if we spoke about everything and his insights and memories sustained me in the exhausting weeks and months that followed."
And in the end, they got there and McRae was happy with the product:
"It was hard setting the alarm every morning for 4.30am and, in the last days, 2.30 am, but as I staggered in the dark to my garden shed of an office.
"Just before lunchtime on Saturday 26 June 2015, I wrote the last word of the book. The word was “Anfield.” I staggered inside, and did a knee-slide across the kitchen floor."
"Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success by Matthew Syed... Failure is the root of longer-term success. Think Michael Jordan’s ’I’ve missed 9,000 shots...’ quote."
"Six Nations, Two Stories: A rugby book that gives equal time to both the men’s and women’s 2015 Six Nations champions."
"The Boys in the Boat... epic story of nine men’s quest for Olympic rowing gold in 1936"
"Tough, gritty and to the point. A bit like the man himself. Roy Keane’s The Second Half gives a fresh insight into the life and mind of one of Ireland’s most recognisable sports personalities."
"In intimate discussions with top football managers Michael Calvin’s Living on the Volcano highlights the harsh reality’s they face unseen by fans."
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