Sporting Heroes of Essex and East London 1960-2000, by Dr Phil Stevens

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The Independent Culture

Despite the narrow focus suggested by the title, by placing two of England's titans of the period – Bobby Moore and Graham Gooch – at the book's core, Phil Stevens has broadened its appeal.

The links between footballer and cricketer were close: both were born into close-knit, working-class families from the East End – Stevens is illuminating on the symbiotic link between that area and Essex – both went to school in Leytonstone, Moore played cricket for Essex Youth, Gooch is a passionate West Ham fan.

Around these central characters the book darts off down a myriad byways, from Hackney Marshes in its heyday of 120 football pitches to women's cricket in Victoria Park. At times repetitive, in places overburdened with detail, this is nevertheless an entertaining muddle of a book.

Certainly the former Hammer Tony Cottee seems to have enjoyed it, as he lifted large chunks of the Introduction for his Foreword. Perhaps it's an Essex joke.

Published in hardback by Apex Publishing, £15.99

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