The first Tour de France in 1903 was a colourful affair full of adventure, mishaps and audacious attempts at cheating. Its riders included characters like Maurice Garin, an Italian-born Frenchman, said to have been swapped for a round of cheese by his parents in order to smuggle him into France to clean chimneys as a teenager, Hippolyte Aucouturier with his trademark handlebar moustache, and amateurs like Jean Dargassies, a blacksmith who had never raced before.
Would this ramshackle pack of cyclists draw crowds to throng France's rutted roads and cheer the first Tour heroes? Surprisingly it did, and, all thanks to a marketing ruse dreamed up to revive struggling newspaper L'Auto, cycling would never be the same again. Peter Cossins takes us through the inaugural Tour de France, painting a nuanced portrait of France in the early 1900s, to see where the greatest sporting event of all began.
‘A history of modern Spain told through one of world football's most intense rivalries’ Independent
‘Sports Book of the Year’ Sunday Times
It’s Messi vs Ronaldo, it’s Catalonia vs Castilla. It’s the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs Franco’s fascists. It’s majestic goals and mesmerising skills, red cards and bench brawls. It’s the best two teams on the planet going face to face and toe to toe.
It’s more than a game. It’s a war. It’s Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
Only, it’s not that simple. From the wounds left by the civil war to the teams’ recent global domination, historian and expert on Spanish football, Sid Lowe lifts the lid on sport’s greatest rivalry. Lowe has spoken to the biggest names and the forgotten heroes who defined their clubs. Men like Alfredo Di Stéfano and Johan Cruyff as well as the only survivor of the most politically charged game in history, the Barcelona striker who knocked Madrid out of the European Cup for the first time ever, and the president who celebrated his club’s defining moment by taking a midnight dip in the Thames.
By exploring the history, politics, culture, economics and language, while never forgetting the drama on the pitch, Lowe demonstrates the symbiotic nature of the relationship between these two football giants. In doing so he reveals the human story behind this explosive rivalry.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR
How did one man go from Nazi Youth indoctrination to English footballing icon?
Bert Trautmann is a football legend. He is famed as the Manchester City goalkeeper who broke his neck in the 1956 FA Cup final and played on. But his early life was no less extraordinary. He grew up in Nazi Germany, where first he was indoctrinated by the Hitler Youth, before fighting in World War Two in France and on the Eastern Front.
In 1945 he was captured and sent to a British POW camp where, for the first time, he understood that there could be a better way of life. He embraced England as his new home and before long became an English football hero. This is his story.
'A gripping story of an unlikely redemption through football' Sunday Times
'He was the best goalkeeper I ever played against. We always said, don't look into the goal when you're trying to score against Bert. Because if you do, he'll see your eyes and read your thoughts.' Bobby Charlton