Now the search is on for the Hornby Mark 2; hence his own follow-up anthology of reminiscences, My Favourite Year; hence The Dogs, a similarly obsessive book; hence numerous other titles warming up on the bench and certain to appear before the year is out. In the meantime, the top 10 of sports books shows how conventional and unshifting British sports tastes remain. Football boasts five titles - two Hornbys, a striker's autobiography, an account of the Venables-Sugar farce, and an analysis about modern soccer's ills. Fishing, greyhounds, rugby, golf and horse-racing weigh in with one title each. Not a sign yet of the Great Obsessive's Book about clay pigeon-shooting. But don't worry, someone somewhere is working on it.
In the old gentlemen-and-claret days of publishing, sports books came pretty low in the order of priorities. To any editor who considered himself civilised, sport was not a field to enter, and not one that promised big rewards either - fans, it was assumed, saved their pennies for the telly licence and tickets to live matches; they'd not be caught dead in Waterstones. Nick Hornby has changed all that: Fever Pitch came out 18 months ago, took a few months to find its level, and has stayed in the besteller lists ever since. Perhaps it hasn't even yet reached fever pitch.