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Answered Prayers

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529419986

Price: £25

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‘Magnificent, moving, often funny and deeply researched account . . . Is this just a book for those who know football? Far from it: this is a story of glory and the impermanence of fame’ Sunday Times (Book of the Week)

‘Like Alf Ramsey’s 1966 team, this book has depth, it has riches and it’s a winnerthe finest piece of sports writing I have read in ages and a superb piece of contemporary history’ Peter Hennessy

England. 1966. The World Cup.

Duncan Hamilton watched England beat West Germany as an eight-year-old boy in the company of his father and grandfather. He recalls ‘Wembley, spread out in the sun; the waving flags; the delirious, joy-of-all-joys moment of the final whistle; the trophy sparkling in the late afternoon light’.

But, seeing the whole game again during the misery of the first Covid lockdown, finally made him realise what Alf Ramsey and his players had no inkling of, which was what came next for them. How, for many of those boys of summer, almost everything after that shimmering moment amounted to an anti-climax or a setback. How ’66 was not a beginning, a guaranteed path towards more success, but a slow decline and fall, and also a disproportionate number of disappointments. And how the triumph of ’66 was dulled through constant repetition, the same images always flashed before us.

Hamilton recognised, too, how many myths and misconceptions had grown around the match.
He decided to revisit ’66, tracing the very roots of a story – as well as the hidden figures within it – that really began during the era of post-War austerity.

Answered Prayers provides, at last, a full account of English football’s greatest achievement and the failures that followed it. We see the institutional inability to appreciate Ramsey and his players, who were taken for granted; the political machinations of the blazered fools who ran the Football Association; the short-sighted blunderers of the Football League.

With his matchless insight and descriptive power, Hamilton tells history afresh and shows us, for the first time, the scale of what was won and what was lost.

PRAISE FOR DUNCAN HAMILTON

‘Hamilton has a perceptively humane understanding of men for whom football was never just a game’ Guardian
‘A marriage of prose and detail so fine and fastidious that it takes the breath away’ Independent
Justifiably prize-winning’ Mail on Sunday

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Reviews

Terrific. As good on post-war Britain as Peter Hennessy. Informed and heart-breaking.
Stephen Frears
An expert observer of different forms of Englishness, he treats sportspeople as three-dimensional humans.
Financial Times
Absorbing. Like all the best football books, Answered Prayers is not just about football; it's about hope and despair, friendship and enmity, and the character it takes to handle them.
Guardian (Book of the Week)
Magnificent, moving, often funny and deeply researched account . . . Is this just a book for those who know football? Far from it: this is a story of glory and the impermanence of fame.
Sunday Times (Book of the Week)
Like Alf Ramsey's 1966 team, this book has depth, it has riches and it's a winner - the finest piece of sports writing I have read in ages and a superb piece of contemporary history. Duncan Hamilton's great gift is the blending of character, mood and moment. Even Ramsey might have showed a spasm of emotion were he here to read it.
Peter Hennessy
This may well be one of the best books ever written about football.
Choice Magazine
Brilliant...Hamilton, arguably Britain's greatest sportswriter, tells [Ramsey's] tale with his wonderful panache. He is the master of the vivid phrase... Dry humour is never far from the surface in this book's pages.
Daily Express
Hamilton has a gift for treating sportspeople as humans
Financial Times (Book of the Year)
A highly poignant, history of England's World Cup victory in 1966.
Daily Express (Book of the Year)
The finest sports book of the year by one of the country's most garlanded sports writers.
Daily Mail
Who would have thought a new book about a sporting event of the distant past would be as enlightening and relevant as Hamilton's Answered Prayers.
Sports Journalists' Association