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More Than a Game

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529363272

Price: £25

ON SALE: 9th November 2023

Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure

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‘Superb . . . Deserves to become a classic of sporting literature’ DAVID KYNASTON

‘Absolutely fascinating and completely eye-opening – every page contains a gem’ MARINA HYDE

‘A sparkling history’ MATTHEW ENGEL

The story of how the British shaped sport, and sport shaped the British.

Sport is an enduring element of British life and culture. In all its variety, it touches on so many significant aspects of past and present: national identity, class, gender, the relationship between country and town, the rise of commerce, the evolution of ethical debate. Our sporting arenas have witnessed triumphs and heartbreaks that have become part of the national narrative.

For a country so obsessed with the invention, playing and watching of sport, the story of how it has come to reflect us remains untold. David Horspool tracks each game as a driver of social change: horse-racing’s obsession with blood and money turned an aristocratic pastime into a national sport; boxing promoted opportunity for ethnic minorities, while simultaneously enforcing a regime of discrimination; golf rehearsed a perennial battle over Britain’s landscape; the football fan created an exuberant, often troubled culture at the centre of British life; and the Empire and Commonwealth Games emerged as an unexpected response to the end of the imperial story.

The history of Britain in sport is a history of popular heroes and pantomime villains – independence fighters, suffragettes, Jewish bare-knuckle boxers – all sharing and contesting loyalties, passions, winning and losing. More Than a Game captures these seminal stories, revealing how sport cemented its place as the ultimate theatre of Britain’s past, and its present.


A superb historical overview of the eternally close and often symbiotic relationship between British sport and British society. Capacious, full of telling detail, unfailingly readable and, perhaps above all, imbued with rock-solid judgment, it deserves to become a classic of sporting literature
David Kynaston
A fascinating insight into how sport is both driven by and a driver of societal change
Jonathan Wilson, author of INVERTING THE PYRAMID
A sparkling history that makes the reader keep murmuring "I never knew that"
Matthew Engel, author of ELEVEN MINUTES LATE
An elegant, richly-textured history
Michael Taylor, author of THE INTEREST
Absolutely fascinating and completely eye-opening - every page contains a gem. I loved it
Marina Hyde, author of WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
Horspool places sport at the heart of Britain's story . . . A joy . . . More Than a Game observes the grand sweep of British sporting history playing out as a set of eye-opening facts
Sunday Telegraph
Thoughtful and entertaining
More Than A Game brilliantly and evocatively details the way we shaped this obsession and how it came to shape us and, indeed, our landscape
The Times, Best Sports Books of the Year
Horspool writes briskly and clearly . . . if you like to watch sport while thinking politics, this is the book for you
Literary Review
He has a lovely eye for memorable details . . . The most powerful theme of Horspool's book, though, is his attention to women's sport, so often marginalised in older accounts
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Highly original . . . lively, rich and readable . . . the range of Horspool's knowledge is impressive
Leo McKinstry, The Spectator
Fascinating . . . More Than a Game observes the grand sweep of British sporting history playing out as a set of eye-opening facts
Daily Telegraph
Illuminating . . . [Horspool] has a lovely eye for the informative detail
Times Literary Supplement
Offers something rich, textured and complex: a thoughtful history of how sport has shaped society and vice versa. You will find delicious nuggets, several "I never knew that" fascinomas, and the overdue correction of long accepted narratives about our sport-obsessed nation
The Critic