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Ken Jones: Boots & Spikes by Steve Lewis

Release date: 18th September, 2011
Publisher: Sportsbooks Ltd

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £13.48
You Save: £5.51 (29%)
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Every so often, one stumbles upon an unexpected treat - a beautiful view across a deserted bay, a night sky replete with a billion stars, or a labour of love which tells of a hugely successful and very modest sportsman: Ken Jones: Boots & Spikes is one such delight.

This should be required reading for every modern-day sports star who craves our attention with the desperate intensity of a z-list celebrity because it offers a perfect template of how they should behave inside and away from the sporting arena.

Ken Jones' sporting prowess may never be replicated. He was an accomplished rugby union international, winning 44 Welsh caps and representing the British Lions on 17 occasions, scoring 16 tries in the process. One of those tries, beautifully described here: "÷He ran at all times with the sinuous grace of a greyhound and now his long legs stretched forth, flashing over the green and driving onward toward the goal÷" was credited as the greatest of all time.

But Ken Jones was also an Olympic silver medallist and, as this excellent biography reminds us, he won umpteen national athletics' titles.

Steve Lewis's well-researched book enables us to relish sport and the behavioural standards of a bygone age. This was a time when players would embark upon long sea voyages (as Jones did with the Lions to New Zealand in 1950) and write letters home, telling loved ones of how they passed their time engaged in "÷whist drives, brains trusts and quizzes." How the modern-day 'Twitterer' would fare is anyone's guess.

What strikes the reader is the easy-going manner in which Jones alternated between top-flight rugby and international athletics. He was a fixture in the successful Welsh team between 1947-56, playing his final international the following year. Meanwhile, he captained Britain's athletics team at the European Games and represented Wales in Vancouver in 1954.

His consistency and dedication resulted in this modest and unassuming man being awarded an OBE for services to sport in 1960. Lewis closes his outstanding biography by telling us that: "÷what a trawl through the tomes that record such deeds will not confirm is what a damn fine fellow Kenneth Jeffery Jones was." It's an epitaph of which the man would be proud, though one which many of our modern-day sportsmen would fail to understand.


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