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Interviews with journalists and authors about an outstanding piece of writing on sport. From BackPage.

Interviews with journalists and authors about an outstanding piece of writing on sport. From BackPage.
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Interviews with journalists and authors about an outstanding piece of writing on sport. From BackPage.




Jonathan Northcroft: Deadlines and Darts with Dele

Jonathan Northcroft approached the World Cup in Russia this summer with a sense of trepidation. Little did he know that he would fall in love with the football and the country. In Deadlines and Darts with Dele, Jonathan offers a behind-the-scenes view of what it's like to be a frontline reporter at the biggest show on earth. In this episode, he talks to Neil BackPage about how his daily Facebook diary turned into a book; he talks England, access. match reporting, interviewing. If you listen...


Mike Calvin: Family

Chances are you came to Michael Calvin’s writing through his later books The Nowhere Men, Living on the Volcano or Hunger in Paradise. Well, before all that, there was Family, Mike’s first book in which he was given unlimited access to a season at Millwall FC. The book also has a fascinating back-story, with Mike having self-published the first edition which was then nominated for Football Book of the Year. Here we talk about how important access is to great sports writing and how he sets...


Michael Calvin: State of Play

Michael Calvin’s new book is called State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game. And In it, he shines a light on the human stories of football. We hear from chairmen, journeymen, female coaches, performance coaches, rights campaigners and those who fight for the soul of the national game in the light of its rampant commercialisation. As always, you’ll get a strong sense of the themes of the book, but we also talk at length about the nature of sports writing and how the eloquent prose of...


Hugh MacDonald: Andy Murray, the history man

Hugh MacDonald has been a journalist for 47 years but the most fulfilling day of his professional life came in the summer of 2013 when he watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon for the first time. Hugh had followed the Murray story for years, got to know the family and became the go-to Andy Murray reporter for media around the world. Around 6pm on July 7, he faced the task of distilling Murray’s achievement into a 1200 word news story for the front page of The Herald newspaper in Scotland. Hugh...


Patrick Jennings: Lev Yashin, Bullet-maker to Ballon d'Or

If you only read one article during this year’s World Cup, make it Patrick Jennings’ extensive piece on Russian football legend Lev Yashin. The image of the flat-capped goalkeeper will be everywhere this summer as part of the branding for Russia 2018. And his story is an epic tale which Jennings tells in a gripping piece of long-form journalism on the BBC website. Built around an incredible interview with Yashin’s widow, Valentina, in the Moscow apartment she used to share with her late...


Garrincha: The triumph and tragedy of Brazil's forgotten footballing hero

If you’re a fan of football biographies, chances are you’ll have read Ruy Castro’s 2004 biography of Garrincha. It is an astonishing, idiosyncratic tale of a man who overcomes physical disability to win the World Cup and become one of the most iconic Brazilian footballers of all time. It is a bonkers story of a man who lost his virginity to a goat and fathered enough children to fill a football team and a subs bench. Brazil-based journalist Andrew Downie translated Castro’s book into English...


Doctor Socrates: Andrew Downie

Socrates was one of the most iconic footballers of the 20th century. tall and thin, with a thick black beard and talent to burn, he lit up Brazil at the 1982 and 86 World Cups. But the football was only part of the story - Socrates was also a qualified doctor and political activist who campaigned endlessly for social justice in Brazil. His was a remarkable story and Dr Socrates, Andrew Downie’s biography, is a remarkable book. Here's his conversation with Martin about it. Enjoy


Henry Winter: Reporting on a World Cup

Henry Winter, chief football writer of The Times, talks about the experience of covering major tournaments as a journalist: from the press' relationship with the FA, the players who light up the interview room through to climbing trees in an attempt to glimpse England training sessions


Henry Winter: 50 Years of Hurt

In '50 Years of Hurt', Henry Winter went in search of the answer to the biggest question in English international football: Why have England not won a tournament since 1966? Through interviews with participants from every World Cup, Winter explores themes like tactical conservatism, FA incompetence, press relations and the culture of fear which grips the players. There are shafts of optimism, however, for England fans ahead of this summer in Russia.


Graham Hunter: Spain - The Inside Story of La Roja's Historic Treble

In 2013, Graham book Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja's Historic Treble was released. Graham had behind-the-scenes access at all three tournaments and used his incredible insight to tell the story of the greatest achievement in the history of international football. This is Graham's conversation with Neil White, co-founder of BackPage who published the book and believes it is the best title his company have released. To take advantage of a special offer to buy the book direct from...


Grant Wahl: Football 2.0

In Football 2.0., Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) breaks down the technical and tactical revolution that has transformed football through interviews with one player in every key position on and off the pitch. Wahl sits down with world-class talents such as Manuel Neuer, Vincent Kompany, Xabi Alonso, Chicharito, Christian Pulisic, Roberto Martinez and Michael Zorc to analyse hours of game footage, gaining insights that only those at the top of the sport can offer. This is Martin's...


Archie Macpherson: Jock Stein The Definitive Biography

Archie Macpherson’s book 'Jock Stein: The Definitive Biography' was published in 2004 and updated four years ago. Built on a mountain of research and infused with Archie’s own knowledge through his decades-long professional relationship with Stein, this is by far the most complete view of Stein’s life that has ever been written. This is Martin's conversation with Archie


James Montague: Inside the Secret World of Football in North Korea

In December 2017, Bleacher Report published James Montague's ground-breaking report from inside North Korea - the result of a journey over a decade in the making. His story brings together an Asian Cup qualifier, a nuclear bomb, an under-pressure manager, the world's largest stadium and a ballboy-based international incident. It's a trip.


Nick Harris: The Global Sports Salaries Survey

In 2010, journalist Nick Harris first produced an annual report called the Global Sports Salaries Survey, which compared athletes’ wages on a like-for-like basis from major sports around the world. In 2018, the report now covers all the major football leagues, NBA basketball, NFL, NHL, IPL cricket and more. Here Nick tells us how he pulls it all together thanks to a huge amount of expertise and an army of contacts around the world.


Richard Moore: In Search of Robert Millar

Cycling journalist Richard Moore reflects on his critically-acclaimed book In Search of Robert Millar, a fascinating portrait of the famous Tour de France cyclist. It’s a book that combines biography with a real-life detective story


Grant Wahl: The World's Team

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl talks us through his 2012 profile piece about FC Barcelona. It was headlined ‘The World’s Team’ and for it, he was given unparalleled week-long access to the club’s new training facility, where he interviewed Xavi, Fabregas and Pique


David Winner: Stillness & Speed (Dennis Bergkamp authorised biography)

Dennis Bergkamp was a unique footballer, a player who inspired Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal to greatness in the nineties and noughties with an exquisite blend of technique, balletic grace and unforgettable moments. It was always going to take something special to encapsulate the Dutchman’s unique talents in book form. Written as a collaboration between David Winner, author of Brilliant Orange, and Dutch journalist Japp Visser, Stillness and Speed moves between hugely insightful interviews with...


David Winner: Brilliant Orange

David Winner talks through his legendary exploration of Dutch football, Brilliant Orange. Published in 2000, it has become a classic of sports literature. Winner's book is both an idiosyncratic journey into the cultural and social forces which produced the greatest-ever generation of Dutch footballers - embodied in the legendary figure of Johan Cruyff - and a rollicking good football story.


Ben Reiter: How Baseball went beyond Moneyball

Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter talks through his 2014 cover story on the Houston Astros. His piece predicted that the Astros - then the worst team in baseball - would win the 2017 World Series. In November, he was at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, to see his prediction come true. This is the extraordinary story of perhaps the greatest long-shot in all of sportswriting.


Coming attractions

We're taking a short break for Christmas - full details here, as well as a preview of what's next from Between The Lines.And if you want to get us a present... nothing says Merry Christmas like a review on iTunes.