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As Britain’s Empire went to war in August 1914, rugby players were the first to volunteer. They led from the front and paid a disproportionate price. In 1919, a grateful Mother Country hosted a rugby tournament: sevens teams at eight venues, playing 17 matches to declare a first ‘world champion’. There had never been an international team tournament like it. For the first time teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Britain and France were assembled in one place. Rugby held the first ever ‘World Cup’. It was a moment of triumph, a celebration of military victory, of Commonwealth and Allied unity, and of rugby values, moral and physical. In 2015 the tournament returns to England as the world remembers the Centenary of the Great War. Values of teamwork, respect, discipline were forged and tested in war – and enjoyment of rugby helped men through it. With a foreword by Jason Leonard, this is the story of rugby’s journey through the First World War to its first World Cup, and how those values endure today. 'After The Final Whistle' is shortlisted for the 2016 Cross Sports Book of the Year award.
WINNER OF THE BRITISH SPORT BOOK AWARDS - RUGBY BOOK OF THE YEAR‘A fresh and fascinating take on the impact of the Great War with a novel and moving focus’ Ian Hislop"Stephen Cooper has written a haunting and beautiful book, [he] tells the story of men from one rugby club but it is a universal narrative of heroism and loss. He writes superbly and has produced a book of commendable scholarship. I cannot recommend it enough." Fergal Keane "a deeply moving book about the loss of fifteen members of Rosslyn Park Rugby Club during the Great War. A War that scarred Britain and took so many fine men, who had they lived would have enriched this country. The lives of these young men, all so promising, are poignantly and vividly recalled" Max Arthur This is the story of 15 men killed in the Great War. All played rugby for one London club; none lived to hear the final whistle. Rugby brought them together; rugby led the rush to war. They came from Britain and the Empire to fight in every theatre and service, among them a poet, playwright and perfumer. Some were decorated and died heroically; others fought and fell quietly. Together their stories paint a portrait in miniature of the entire War. The Final Whistle plays tribute to the pivotal role rugby played in the Great War by following the poignant stories of fifteen men who played for Rosslyn Park, London. They came from diverse backgrounds, with players from Australia, Ceylon, Wales and South Africa, but they were united by their love of the game and their courage in the face of war. From the mystery of a missing memorial, Cooper’s meticulous research has uncovered the story of these men and captured their lives, from their vanished Edwardian youth and vigour, to the war they fought and how they died.
The final word on Brian Clough In this first full, critical biography, Jonathan Wilson draws an intimate and powerful portrait of one of England's greatest football managers, Brian Clough, and his right-hand man, Peter Taylor. It was in the unforgiving world of post-war football where their identities and reputations were made - a world where, as Clough and Taylor's mentor Harry Storer once said, 'Nobody ever says thank you.' Nonetheless, Clough brought the gleam of silverware to the depressed East Midlands of the 1970s. Initial triumph at Derby was followed by a sudden departure and a traumatic 44 days at Leeds. By the end of a frazzled 1974, Clough was set up for life financially, but also hardened to the realities of football. By the time he was at Forest, Clough's mask was almost permanently donned: a persona based on brashness and conflict. Drink fuelled the controversies and the colourful character; it heightened the razor-sharp wit and was a salve for the highs of football that never lasted long enough, and for the lows that inevitably followed. Wilson's account is the definitive portrait of this complex and enduring man.
In a tiny, decaying aluminium smelting town in southern Tajikistan, a short drive from a raging war zone, Afghanistan take on Palestine in the first Asian qualifier for 2014's World Cup in Brazil. Every player on both teams is risking something by playing: their careers, their families, even their lives. Yet, along with thousands of other footballers backed by millions of supporters, they all dream of snatching one of the precious 32 places at the finals; and so begins a three-year epic struggle – long before the usual suspects start their higher-profile qualifying campaigns under the spotlight. Named after the greatest victory (and defeat) that the World Cup qualifiers have ever seen (Australia's 31-0 victory over American Samoa), Thirty-One Nil is the story of how footballers from all corners of the globe begin their journey chasing a place at the World Cup Finals. It celebrates the part-time priests, princes and hopeless chancers who dream of making it to Brazil, in defiance of the staggering odds stacked against them. It tells the story of teams who have struggled for their very existence through political and social turmoil, from which they will very occasionally emerge into international stardom. From the endlessly humiliated San Marino to lowly Haiti; from war-torn Lebanon to the oppressed and fleet-footed players of Eritrea, in Thirty-One Nil James Montague gets intimately and often dangerously close to some of the world's most extraordinary teams, and tells their exceptional stories.
After near-victory in the World Cup, Jamie has landed his ultimate dream job. But when disaster strikes, are his days of football glory about to become a distant memory?

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