Book Club

Book Club: ‘Thank You Hermann Goering’

In his time working for the Daily Sketch and Daily Mail, Brian Scovell probably reported on more Test matches and international football matches than any other English sportswriter. This fascinating, amusing and moving memoir is filled with hundreds of anecdotes and insights into top sports personalities and other public figures, including previously untold stories about Maggie Thatcher, John Major, Princess Diana, Brian Lara, Enoch Powell, and Alan Sugar.

Following a German bombing raid on the Isle of Wight in 1943, Brian spent two years in hospital reading articles by Tom Philips, the leading sports writer of the day. His mother wanted him to be a banker, but in that hospital bed Brian decided to go to Fleet Street, so he has Hermann Goering to thank for the way his life turned out.

England cricket captain Ted Dexter called him ‘Scoop’ and two of his scoops, both outside sport, concerned a secret meeting between Goering and Lord Jellicoe at St Lawrence, in a failed attempt to broker a peace agreement, and a German amphibious raid on a radar station in the same area.

One of the book’s central themes is Brian’s love affair with his wife Audrey, an artist who died in 2000 and continues to inspire his writing. As he contends with the boozy Cobbold brothers, weathers spats with fellow journalists and travels the world (meeting Pope John Paul II and Reverend Canaan Banana on the way) she remains his chief allegiance, more important than newsprint or sport.

Born in 1935 on the Isle of Wight, Brian Scovell was one of the Daily Mail’s longest-serving and best-loved sports writers.He has written 24 previous books, most famously co-authoring the autobiography of the illusive Brian Lara for Corgi, but he has also written about Dickie Bird, Trevor Brooking, Bobby Robson and Ken Barrington. His books about England Managers and Jim Laker were both nominated for the Sports Book of the Year Prize. He lives in Bromley in Kent.

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