One day, a week before “Lockdown” was officially announced, I was seeking out a particular cricket book from my bookcase upstairs and I came across a few books sectioned together, a series of sporting quiz books that I had written quite a few years ago!
There was one for Andy Stovold’s benefit year in 1987, another for Mark Alleyne’s in 1999 and three books that were actually published, by EP Publishing in 1983, namely David Gower’s Cricket Quizbook, Bryan Robson’s Football Quizbook and Henry Cooper’s Sports Quizbook and then suddenly the goggles were down, the starter was on his rostrum, the tape dropped and my new “project” for “Lockdown” was off and running towards the first fence.
“Lockdown” was duly enforced, and my new daily routine took place. Dream up a theme, do some serious thinking and research, scribble some questions, take a quick bit of exercise and then come back to write the questions out more legibly (all by hand, not on a computer) and then back outside for another wander round the park. Various themes evolved, some late at night and others very early in the morning, but by now we were jumping well and onto the second circuit.
I needed, though, someone to type up the questions for me and a chance phone call with Louise Armour, known to me as the lovely Scottish lady with the gorgeous smile on duty at the Owners & Trainers desk at Cheltenham Racecourse, resulted in her accepting the job as temporary secretary – no payment required of course !
Thirty pages or so were duly transmitted up to Scotland and the hours flew by and then there was another chance conversation with an old cricketing chum, Paul Clixby, who has a quarter share with me in a horse (so far, a moderate one!) at Fergal O’Brien’s, called Blue Jacaranda. Paul offered to get involved and suddenly I discovered I had a like-minded individual at hand, with whom I could brainstorm and seek inspiration. The task became that much more fun and Paul had plenty of ideas too and enjoyed setting questions of his own. Hence, we had by now galloped through the initial dream of fifty pages, and a hundred became the new realistic target. So here we are still in “Lockdown” but with a book well nigh ready for printing and distribution.
Harry Redknapp generously provided a foreword, Mark Alleyne came up with the title, AP McCoy was kind enough to wish us luck, and several others have helped along the way: Godfrey Sterry, John Proudfoot, John Weeks, Rod “Chops” Bernard, Dr Simon Gillson, Clare Fogarty, Kate Nurden and Wendy Rollason.
Of late, the hours have been that much longer and the days that much more boring, but the “project” is nearly complete and the winning post will soon come into view. But for the moment, let us hope you enjoy the questions and you might just surprise yourselves with knowing some of the answers, and possibly even learn something unexpected.
I close, if I may, at this most difficult of times, with my favourite racing expression when one of the horses heads to the races: “keep dreaming”, “keep dreaming”, for …
Sport is the Answer!
Chris Coley May 2020