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An Ordinary Spectator: 50 Years of Watching Sport

John Rigg

An Ordinary Spectator: 50 Years of Watching Sport


ISBN 9781781320051

Published Jun 2012

244 x 170mm (432 pages)

…When Geoff Boycott received the first ball of the morning from Australia’s champion bowler, Dennis Lillee, the Headingley ground was full. As the delivery passed by the outside of the off stump and travelled through to the wicket-keeper, Rodney Marsh, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. All activity had stopped. There was not a single sound: not a murmur or a whisper or any movement at all. It was as if, apart from the players, every single inhabitant of the ground had been placed in a state of suspended animation. And then, after the ball had thumped into Marsh’s gloves, there was the collective realisation that Boycott had survived the test. 18,000 people – minus a few Australians – breathed out a communal sigh of relief…

It is August 1961 and a 6 year-old boy, sitting on his father’s shoulders, is watching a rugby match in south Leeds. He is immediately hooked on the experience of the sporting event, viewed live and in the flesh…

… fast forward to August 2011. A man in late middle age is watching another rugby match.

John Rigg has been an ‘ordinary spectator’ – not only of rugby (league and union), but of football and cricket and a range of other sports – for 50 years.

This book is a warm and engaging memoir of half a century of sports spectating – rugby (union and league), cricket, football and a range of other sports – from Yorkshire to London to Scotland via New York and Sydney (and Minsk!). It is from the perspective of 'an ordinary spectator' paying his way in the stand or on the terrace.

Through its 'Seven Ages of Watching Sport', the book aims to be far more than a simple 'I was there' catalogue of sporting events – major and minor – over the last five decades. Rather, it offers some perceptive insights into what we derive from sports spectating, why we are continually drawn back to watch time and time again, and – from an individual’s perspective – what watching sport tells us about ourselves.

Awards for the Book

An Ordinary Spectator came second in the Adult Non-Fiction category of the 2012 The Wishing Shelf Awards.

It has also been named a finalist in the Memoirs (Other) category of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

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