Journalist Nick goes through sporting memories in new book

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The tale of how current Sudbury Cricket Club coach Tom Huggins thought he was the victim of a wind-up is recalled in a new book.

When he received a voicemail asking him to call TalkSPORT, Huggins thought it was a practical joke. That was until the radio station rang him a couple of days later wanting to speak to him about taking five wickets in five balls in a T20 match.

Martin Head and Don James, who were joint managers of Sudbury Town when they reached the FA Vase final in 1989, recall details of that memorable season.

Both these stories are featured in Scoop, a collection of tales and stories across four decades written by former sports editor Nick Garnham.

The book contains a whole host of stories featuring clubs and sportsmen from west Suffolk and beyond that were covered by Garnham while working for the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Star and Green ‘Un.

The 54-year-old, who worked for newspaper publishers Archant Ltd for 32 years, said: “I had wanted to write a book for even longer than I had wanted to be a sports journalist, and I was 10 years old when I decided that was what I wanted to be when I grew up!

“But after a few false starts over the years it was Bury St Edmunds groundsman and Suffolk cricket coach Bobby Flack who sowed the seed in my mind that I should write a book about my career.

“He first suggested the idea to me three or four years ago, and the longer I thought about it, the more I knew it was what I wanted to write a book about.”

Garnham, who now works for Suffolk FA as their marketing and public relations officer, said that it had taken exactly a year from writing down his initial ideas on what to include to the book being published.

“I have edited the sports section of a daily newspaper, a weekly football paper, programmes, anniversary brochures and handbooks, but writing the book was a whole new challenge,” he said.

“It has been a labour of love, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.”

The book contains stories featuring personalities from Bury St Edmunds, Exning and Mildenhall cricket clubs, AFC Sudbury, Cornard United and Hadleigh United football clubs, plus Elmswell boxer David Starie.

There are interviews with all 12 of the Ipswich Town players who were involved in the 1978 FA Cup final victory over Arsenal at Wembley, plus several past and present Suffolk and Essex cricketers.

Other stories feature sportsmen to be knighted including Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Viv Richards, Sir Ian Botham and Sir Richard Hadlee.

Garnham, who got former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks CBE to write the foreword, said: “I think the strength of the book is that there is a real mixture of stories and anecdotes from international celebrities, to national treasures and local personalities.

“There are stories not just on sportsmen and women but whole chapters on managers, coaches, chief executives, groundsmen and even spectators.

“There are several quirky stories, such as the cricketer who was inspired to play again after visiting a graveyard and the cup match that was settled in an examination hall.

“Then there’s the football referee who was duped into thinking he had been invited to officiate at the London Olympics, and the Ipswich striker who scored a hat-trick to save Norwich from relegation on the last day of the season!

“There are also some sad stories, while others will bring a smile to your face.

“Anyone picking up a newspaper only gets to read the printed version of the story, but Scoop also relates some of the tales behind the stories which can be equally, if not more, interesting to the reader but they never get to hear about.

“I think the book will appeal to anyone with a broad interest in sport, but particularly cricket and football, and also anyone who has an interest in journalism.”

n To buy Scoop, published by JMD Media Ltd and priced at £14.99, visit www.scoopbook.co.uk