The procession nature of Formula One in recent years – with the same cars at the front, the same teams running just behind, then daylight to the best of the rest where racing actually happens – doesn’t make for great motorsport viewing.
As in previous years there have been numerous Australian sport biographies, autobiographies and histories published during the year.
Several are on recent athletes but it is good to see reflections on athletes like Peter Norman, Ralph Doubell and Hubert Opperman.
Sports book publisher Geoff Armstrong recently wrote about the viability of sport publishing in Australia. By reading any of the books below you might help sustain this important area of publishing.
Two athletics biographies were on Australian runners that came to prominence at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Andrew Webster and Matt Norman wrote ‘The Peter Norman Story’ and Michael Sharp ‘Ralph Doubell: Do Not Worry, It Is Only Pain’.
There were range of books on Australian football. Three books on recently retired players – Sam Mitchell’s ‘Relentless’, Robert Murphy’s ‘Bob Murphy: Leather Soul’ and Michael Wilson’s ‘Cyril: Celebrating a Hawthorn Champion’.
Dan Eddy’s ‘The Norm Smith Medallists’ profiles players that won the best player award in the VFL/AFL Grand Final 1979-2017 and Matt Watson’s ‘Sons of Guns’ delves into famous footballing families.
Two books were written by political and social commentators reflect on premiership success – George Megalogenis ‘The Football Solution: How Richmond’s Premiership Can Save Australia’ and Martin Flanagan’s ‘A Wink from the Universe: The Inside Story of the AFL’s Greatest Fairytale, the Bulldogs’ 2016 Premiership’.
Australia’s greatest female basketballer Lauren Jackson career is covered in ‘My Story: A Life in Basketball and Beyond’.
The most popular sport for publishing books in Australia is cricket.
Biographies of past players included Shane Warne’s ‘No Spin’, Bill Lawry ‘Bill Lawry: Chasing a Century’, ‘Rod Marsh: The Illustrated Autobiography’, Ken Piesse’s ‘The Story of Cec Pepper, the Best Cricketer Never to Play for Australia’ and Bernard Whimpress ‘Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man’.
Several books examined significant cricketers: Liam Hauser’s ‘Immortals of Cricket’ endeavoured to determine Australia’s greatest male cricketer and Rob Harvey compiled ‘Captains File: from Peden to Haynes: Australia’s Women Test Cricket Captains’.
Gideon Haigh’s book ‘Crossing the Line’ explored in detail the 2018 Cape Town ball tampering scandal.
Daniel Oakman’s ‘Oppy: The Life of Sir Hubert Opperman’ examined in detailed the cycling and political career of Oppy.
2018 was a record-breaking year for the mighty Winx including her fourth Cox Plate. She commanded two books – Andrew Rule’s ‘Winx: The Authorised Biography’ and Trevor Mashallsea’s ‘Winx: Biography of a Champion’
Kristen Manning’s ‘The Gauch: Official Biography of Darren Gauci’ tells the story of one of Australia’s most famous, most liked and most accomplished jockeys. Long-time Melbourne race caller Greg Miles story was authored by John Craven in ‘Greg Miles – My Lucky Life’
Three leading Australian players that retired in 2018 produced biographies: Johnathan Thurston with James Phelps ‘Johnathan Thurston: The Autobiography’, Sam Thaiday with James Colley ‘Tries, Lies and Meat Pies’ and Luke Lewis ‘Cool Hand Luke Lewis: The Autobiography’
Cronulla fans can relive the inaugural premiership with Clinton Maynard’s ‘Turn Your Porch Lights Off: The Story of Cronulla’s First NRL Premiership’.
Finally, rugby historian Andrew Ferguson produced ‘The Story of Rugby League’.
Greg Growden’s ‘The Wallabies at War ‘explored members of the Wallabies that have been involved in every major Australian military conflict.
Three books covered the history of the Socceroos and Matildas. Andrew Howe authored two titles: ‘Encyclopedia of Socceroos’ and ‘Encyclopedia of Matildas’. Both are essential library books for those interested the records of these national teams.
Late in 2018, Trevor Thompson’s book ‘Playing for Australia – the First Socceroos, Asia and World’ was launched.
Interestingly two books were written on Cecil Healy, the Australian swimming Olympic gold medallist killed in the Great War. Rochelle Nicholls wrote ‘Hell and High Water: Cecil Healy, Olympic Champion Whose Life was Cut Short by War’ and 1960 Olympic swimming gold medallist John Devitt and Larry Writer’s ‘Cecil Healy: A Biography’.
Colin and Paul Tatz Tatz’s updated Aboriginal and Islander Sports Hall of Fame with their book ‘Black Pearls: The Aboriginal and Islander Sports Hall of Fame’. The updated book includes the stories of 269 members.
Richard Light and John Robert Evans authored ‘Stories of Indigenous Success in Australian sport: Journeys to the AFL and NRL’.
Gold medallist in two Paralympic sports – basketball and tennis, Dylan Alcott’s ‘Able: Gold Medals, Grand Slams and Smashing Glass Ceilings’ aims to change perceptions of people with a disability.
Tasmanian sports broadcaster Peter Newlinds with David Brewster wrote ‘Magic Moments from The Life of a Sports Broadcaster’.
Australian sport satirist Titus O’Reilly produced two books – ‘Sporting Chance’ examined sporting scandals and athlete redemption and ‘A Thoroughly Unhelpful History of Australian Sport’ .
Prolific author Peter FitzSimmons ‘Fair Go, Sport’ examined great sportsmanship and fair play.
Noted sports historian Bernard Whimpress with Santo Caruso published ‘Adelaide Sporting Sites’, a must for those interested in South Australian sport.
Ashley Browne and Dashiel Lawrence compiled ‘People of the Boot: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Australian Jews in Sport’. It brought together the thoughts of journalists, sport writers, editors, researchers and broadcasters of the impact of Jews in Australian sport.
As can be seen, there is a wide range of books to read on Australian sport during the summer.