BEING GEOFFREY BOYCOTT by Geoffrey Boycott and Jon Hotten

by Geoffrey Boycott and Jon Hotten

Published by:
Fairfield Books, Bedser Stand,
Kia Oval, London SE11 5SS.


Pages: 308

MRP: £25

Copies can be bought from Being Geoffrey Boycott - The Nightwatchman & Being Geoffrey Boycott - signed copy - The Nightwatchman


I am unashamed to say that Sir Geoffrey Boycott was my childhood hero so was delighted to hear that he has written his Test memoirs. When I was growing up watching cricket with an England team which included Gower and Botham, I was treated with quite some suspicion at being a very dedicated Boycott supporter. As with any supporter, there were trials along the way and this book, Being Geoffrey Boycott, has rekindled many of those memories, both happy and unhappy.

This book came about during the pandemic when the legendary England run-scorer put his reminiscences of his Test career to paper. What, in the first instance, this shows is that he has a remarkable memory to be able to remember so much about a little matter of 108 Tests.

His co-author, Jon Hotten, is also an invaluable source with this book. He is like the glue, the person who has researched other Boycott books (and books of team-mates and opponents) and fitted Sir Geoffrey's life and put into context what was happening around the Tests. It all makes for a splendid read.

I admit that I launched into the book at the Tests which had notable memories for me, both for personal reasons and because a significant Boycott score had perked me up. Lord's 1979 when the first day of the Test was my first visit to Lord's and which ended with my hero being unbeaten at the end of that day. (Okay, maybe best not to mention that I checked the end of day score elsewhere and had England's total and Boycott's score spot on with my recollection...); the England and West Indies Trent Bridge Test of 1980; the hundredth hundred at his home ground in 1977; that Michael Holding over, and another Trent Bridge Test, against Australia in 1981. The last two have made me now feel better, the former after locking myself in a cupboard after Geoffrey's dismissal, and the last for going into school lunch dressed in black suit and tie and being asked if I had suffered a bereavement after another Boycott dismissal just before the lunch interval. I am sure that readers will all have their own places within the book to dip into, but it may also prove to be a fascinating historical book.

There are certain events which Sir Geoffrey will be remembered for but he writes about them fairly. Sometimes biographical books can tell us more than autobiographical ones, but this book does seem to tackle the difficult moments constructively. Such events include his being dropped for perceived slow scoring after making his highest Test score of 246 not out, and those of his final Test in Calcutta. His three-year voluntary absence from the England team is also addressed. It is also easy to forget that, in his earlier Test-playing days, he picked up seven wickets, including the great Graeme Pollock.

I am not remotely surprised to find that Sir Geoffrey has kept letters and other correspondence, some of which is published within this book, and for the first time. A school report makes for interesting reading: top in the term time in Domestic Sciences and Geography, and second in Latin. The remarks box has some very brief comments presumably because so little space was given but the General Report column, a larger area, reveals a surprise after beginning with a mention that whilst his report is "...very satisfactory...", there are "...too many stripes - probably due to the fact that he is often late". Whoops, presumably an area which he quickly corrected.

I have found Being Geoffrey Boycott a wonderful book. Okay, anyone reading this review may not be surprised by that comment but there is much to be learnt from Sir Geoffrey's latest book. Yes, in places it is maybe unsurprisingly forthright but there is much generosity, instances of acceptance that the opponent has been better on the day (or days). Many sporting stories, especially as time marches on, have occasionally taken on an accepted status but I have seen one or two instances in this book which have challenged those perceptions. Jon Hotten's mostly-italicised script throughout the book adds much and the result is a fascinating read, a triumph of research on Jon's part and a tribute to the remarkable memory of one of England's most diligent run-scorers and memorable characters.

When Being Geoffrey Boycott dropped through the letterbox recently, the last thing I expected was to open it and find the book signed personally to me. A very big thank you to Sir Geoffrey and Matt Thacker at Fairfield Books for so kindly doing this. The book has brought memories flooding back and I wish Sir Geoffrey and Fairfield Books every success with it.