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Long before Drake refused to interrupt his game of bowls when the Armada was sighted, the British have had a passionate relationship with sport. Julian Norridge goes through the stories of fourteen major sports from cricket to boxing to football, from their very beginning and throughout the British Isles, whether it's Welsh inventor and tobacco enthusiast Major Walter Clopton Wingfield coming up with a game that could use those new fangled rubber balls (modern tennis) or the Scots inventing the golf club - 500 years after the game.

But this is far more than a book about sport, it takes a very funny, very British look at our popular history, mythology and most importantly the highly eccentric figures that made it. It chronicles the constant battle between fair play and gambling; between advances in the game and plain cheating (such as turning up with a cricket bat wider than the wicket).

Can We Have Our Balls Back Please? proves that there is an awful lot to be proud of in our history and where that strange feeling of superiority really comes from. It shows why we get just so excited when we take on any other nation in any sporting event and are so disappointed when we lose...

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