From AP McCoy to Norman Whiteside - 10 of the best Northern Ireland sports books

By Nicola McCarthyBBC Sport NI
Jonathan Rea
Rea's bid for a sixth World Superbike title is currently on hold due to the coronavirus crisis

A five-time world superbike champion? Three-time All-Ireland winner? One of Ireland's greatest ever rugby players? Or how about an FA Cup hero who was also the World Cup's youngest player?

There is no shortage of Northern Ireland sports books available and, with no live action to enjoy for a while, this could be a good time to catch up on your reading.

Here, in no particular order, we take a look at 10 of the best published books by or about Northern Irish sports personalities or teams.

Jonathan Rea - Dream. Believe. Achieve. My Autobiography

Released just before securing his fifth straight World Superbike title, Jonathan Rea's autobiography might already need a little updating as his trailblazing success shows no sign of slowing down. Rea's achievements in motorcycling are unprecedented and, in this book, we get an insight into the events, on and off the bike, that have helped shape the character of the Ballyclare man, who has gone on to become the most successful rider in World Superbike history.

Harte - Presence Is The Only Thing - Mickey Harte

Mickey Harte is one of the first names that comes to mind for many when Gaelic football is mentioned. In this book, the three-time All-Ireland winner reveals some of the secrets that have led to Tyrone's remarkable success and longevity in recent times. As we have come to expect from the Tyrone man, he also pulls no punches on giving his opinions on all things GAA in what is a truly candid and forthright autobiography.

Mickey Harte
Harte has led Tyrone to three All-Ireland titles

The Irish Soccer split - Cormac Moore

In this book, Cormac Moore examines the internal conflict between Irish football's organisers, which saw the island of Ireland develop two governing bodies for association football, rather than one. The book has played a key part in the understanding of Irish football and how the game developed north and south. It's a truly fascinating read and a great reference point that deserves a place on the book shelves of all football lovers.

In Sunshine or in Shadow - How Boxing brought hope in the troubles - Donald McRae

Donlad McRae has become renowned as one of the best interviewers working in sports media. In this book, set against the backdrop of the Troubles, he chronicles the lives of four boxers, from different communities, and in particular boxing coach Gerry Storey. The book also serves as a broad history of incidents during the Troubles and highlights the positive influence that the sport of boxing brought in Northern Ireland's darkest days.

Conversations with my Father: Jack Kyle - Justine Kyle McGrath

The term 'the greatest' can often be overused when it comes to sporting heroes, but there would be few dissenters in applying the term to Jack Kyle, arguably the best fly-half the game of rugby has ever seen. Kyle inspired the Irish team to the most successful period in its history, including Ireland's first Grand Slam win in 1948, the Triple Crown in 1949 and the Home Nations Championship in 1951. When the Belfast man retired from rugby - as the world's most-capped player - he became a medical missionary in Chingola, Zambia, where he spent the next 34 years of his life. This series of conversations with his daughter Justine gives us an intimate insight into one of Northern Ireland's truly greatest ever sporting heroes.

Jack Kyle
Jack Kyle passed away in 2014

How Not To Be a Football Millionaire - Keith Gillespie My Autobiography

In 1993, Keith Gillespie burst on to the football scene at Manchester United, under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. A dark-haired young man, who grew up playing football on the streets of Northern Ireland and with a God-given talent - the obvious comparisons to George Best soon followed. From there he moved to Newcastle, where he came excruciatingly close to a Premier League medal. But despite this backdrop of success, this book tells a fascinating and moving human story of the pitfalls that can prove destructive, if not avoided. A story about having the world at your feet and then asking 'where did it all go wrong?' There is no doubt this is one of the most honest autobiographies you will read.

McCoy The Autobiography - Steve Taylor

Tony 'AP' McCoy is unquestionably the greatest and most successful jump jockey of all time. Riding his first winner in 1992, he went on to become champion jockey a record 20 consecutive times. His green and yellow stripes and white hat were a trademark like no other. In April 2010, he achieved his lifelong ambition of winning the Grand National, at the 15th time of asking. This extremely honest autobiography looks at life at the very top of national hunt racing of a sportsman whose achievements are unlikely to be surpassed.

The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life and Times of Alex Higgins - Bill Borrows

The Belfast-born Higgins left school at 15 and by 17 had won both the Northern Ireland and All-Ireland snooker championships, turning professional when he was 20. In 1972, aged just 23, he became the youngest ever person to win the World Championship. Higgins was an extremely charismatic character who was loved by millions, but who was also a self-destructive character. Bill Burrows, who had unprecedented access to Higgins for this book, vividly illustrates the life story of the man who came to be known as 'the hurricane.'

Alex Higgins
Two-time world champion Higgins was one of snooker's most iconic figures

Determined, Norman Whiteside, The Autobiography

Norman Whiteside's football career was full of unforgettable moments - from making his Manchester United debut at the age of 17, witnessing the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, to appearing at two World Cups for Northern Ireland in 1982 and 1986. However, in 1991 at just 26 years old, Whiteside was forced to retire from the game he loved. This autobiography recounts his journey from leaving his Belfast home at the age of 16, the many unforgettable moments of his glittering career to how he rebuilt his life when his playing career came to a premature end.

The Boy on the Shed

In 1981, Paul Ferris signed for Newcastle United from Lisburn Youth. At 16, he became Newcastle United's youngest ever first-teamer, but a serious injury brought a premature end to life as a player. He did return to the club from 1993-2006 as a physio under Kevin Keegan and again in 2009 as part of Alan Shearer's management team. In the three years in between, he became a qualified barrister. This is certainly not your typical football story, written solely by Ferris himself, it touches on various human issues, such as life, death, love and leaving home. You don't have to be a football, or even sports fan, to enjoy this one.

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