by Bill Ribbans

Published by Pitch Publishing,
A2 Yeoman Gate,
Yeoman Way, Worthing,
Sussex BN13 3QZ


Pages: 415

MRP: £19.99

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I have to admit to being a bit tentative about reviewing a book whose subject I had absolutely no knowledge about. Nonetheless, I sensed that it could be an interesting - and detailed, given the book's length of 415 pages! - book but still embarked upon it with a certain amount of trepidation.

It very quickly became apparent that Professor Bill Ribbans has written an engrossing and indeed fascinating account of his times looking after athletes from many sports. It also became evident equally quickly that the author writes expertly, has a tremendous knowledge of many sports and has written it in such a clear and concise way that even my minimal knowledge of his subject was immediately and immensely improved. That in addition to gleaning more about sports I have not been previously interested in.

One sport which did once interest me was Formula 1, and an entire chapter charts the assistance he gave to Michael Schumacher after his 1999 Silverstone accident. It is to Professor Ribbans's great credit that Schumacher could return so quickly to the action.

This book covers all matters medical, on and off the field. Humbly written, Professor Ribbans discusses the many issues which surgeons and indeed any medic involved in sport face as well as showing how sport (and life) has changed during his lifetime. A Northamptonshire man, it is nice to see how wholly he supports (and assists) his local teams. Northamptonshire's admittedly rare cricket trophies appear to have brought much joy.

The book is kind, fair and constructive. Many people are mentioned although some remain anonymous. I am greatly impressed by his wide-ranging knowledge of many sports (and, of course, his mention of his collection of Wisden). I marvelled at the array of facts, both surgical and sporting and am very happy to say that, after my initial trepidation on embarking on Knife in the Fast Lane, it has turned out to be one of the most fascinating books that I have read.

Various quirky aspects mentioned may also amuse and alarm in equal measure, some footballers of yesteryear being injected with extract of monkey testicles being one example.

After reading of the heroics which Professor Ribbans has performed on many athletes and sportspeople, I feel rather ashamed of myself that, after seven months on furlough and plenty of walking during that time, I write this with a gammy left knee and plantar fasciitis in my right heel (as well as a bad back for good measure). I read with dismay at some point during the book that injuries can happen to amateur players who take on too much too soon and realise that I cannot even use this as a defence given that I was not even running...

Knife in the Fast Lane has, as always, been excellently put together by Pitch Publishing and congratulations go to them and Professor Ribbans for such an excellent and captivating book.