Robert Winder

Half-Time

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Set against the backdrop of depression-era politics, 1934 was an annus mirabilis for English sport. Within just a few days of each other, Hedley Verity, Henry Cotton and Fred Perry all triumphed in their field. To a sporting audience still groaning through the quagmire left by the Great Depression, greedy for inspiring distractions, these heroic events made for a heady spectacle.England's Ashes Test victory at Lord's (later known as Verity's match) saw Australia seeking revenge after the Bodyline series of 1932–33, but Verity bowled England to a famous innings victory, taking 15 wickets – 14 in one day! That same day, Cotton set out on the first qualifying round of the British Open. He went on to set a new Open record with a game so sparkling the Daily Express called it "the best round of golf ever played". And within a fortnight, Perry had beaten Australia's Jack Crawford in the Wimbledon final. England had an extraordinary national hatrick.Together, these three contests and these three singular life stories weave a vivid portrait of an England that has faded from view. Half-Time celebrates a time of intense and rapid social and cultural change, a time that was both the last hurrah of the ancien regime and the stirring of something new. And moving through it, famous actors on a grand stage, are three very English heroes.
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328 printed pages

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