Sunday 11 February 2018

Gust Review: King Power: Leicester City's Remarkable Season by 'Richard III'

Another in my series of guest reviews of sport or history books. This one combines the two!
I had a hunch we’d be champions!
The most unlikely story in the history of sport, told by our greatest football writer
On 25th March 2015, when King Richard III, recently rescued from a municipal car park, was reburied in Leicester Cathedral, his beloved football team had just lost 4-3 to Tottenham Hotspur and were bottom of the Premier League, relegation certainties. With King Richard finally at rest, everything changed for Leicester City.
Here, in his own words, King Richard III tells this, the most remarkable sporting story of all time – how 5,000-1 Premier League outsiders became champions: the goals, the games, the dressing-room banter. He gives us the Jamie Vardy story, from prosthetic-limb factory employee to the most celebrated striker this side of the River Soar; Mahrez, the great Muslim dynamo from Algeria, once stuck in the French seventh tier; the dark days of the sex video and the late December wobble; Lords Drinkwater, Albrighton and the great Tinkerman from Italy, all of them heroes of Shakespearean proportions.
This isn’t a fairy-tale, this really happened. From the unsanctioned hand of a much-loved Royal, the greatest football book ever written.

Review: In 2012, an archeological dig at the site of what was believed to be the former Greyfriars Church in Leicester discovered an almost complete skeleton. Subsequent archeological and pathological examination of the skeleton, revealing a marked curvature of the spine and severe trauma injuries to the skull, and limited DNA testing looking at maternally-inherited DNA was carried out. The results of these combined examinations provided very strong support for the proposition that the remains were those of Richard Plantagenet, erstwhile Duke of Gloucester and King Richard III of England. Richard had assumed the role of King of England following the death of his brother Edward IV in 1483 and the subsequent declaration of Edward's son Edward V as illegitimate. Richard reigned for two years until Henry Tudor's rebellion in 1485 which culminated in the Battle of Bosworth near Leicester, in which Richard was killed. Henry Tudor subsequently ascended the throne as Henry VII, the first of the Tudor monarchs of England. Richard was the last Plantagenet king of England and the last king to die in battle. After the battle, his body was taken to Leicester and was said to have been buried in the choir of Greyfriars Church.

Following the discovery in 2012 and the completion of the various examinations, the remains of Richard III were re-interred on 26th March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral. Just prior to the re-internment, Leicester City Football Club were beaten 4-3 by Tottenham Hotspur and were bottom of the English Premier League, favourites to be relegated at the end of that season. What followed in the final nine games of the season was a remarkable turnaround of form that allowed Leicester City to escape relegation. The following season of 2015-2016 was even more remarkable as Leicester City, under a new manager, stormed to the top of the league and were crowned champions, having been quoted as 5,000 to 1 outsiders to lift the title at the outset of the season. Superstition plays an important role in most sports, and many people have attributed Leicester City's run of form during that year to Richard III's re-internment, less than a mile from their ground at the King Power Stadium. This book, purportedly from the pen (or should that be quill?) of Richard III, although given that he has been dead for over 500 years, is likely to be the work of a "ghost" writer, is an account of that year, from the relegation battle at the end of one season to being crowned champions at the end of the next.

The book is an exciting account of the football matches during that amazing year, describing the personalities involved, the back room politics of the football club and a few of the low points, together with many high points. There are also historical insights into the 15th century world of Richard III. For example, the author has few good words to say about William Shakespeare, who he believes gave him a very bad reputation in his play Richard III. However, there are some areas where the author's memory appears very hazy, as when he states he has no idea of the fate of Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, the so called "Princes in the Tower", who disappeared, never to be seen again, in the summer of 1483 following Richard's accession to the throne.

As one may imagine, this book is full of tongue in cheek humour and is written in very Shakespearian style (although whether that is William Shakespeare or Craig Shakespeare, who was Leicester City's assistant manager at the time, I shall not reveal). As a fusion of sport and history, I enjoyed this book very much and found myself laughing out loud (or LOL as Richard puts it on one occasion) many times on reading it.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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