Sport, for the English, has always been a defiant assertion of liberty

The English cannot be understood without some appreciation of their attachment to their games, and yet this is an area of their story often overlooked by historians. Or perhaps it is simply considered beneath their interest. This is the central message of Robert Colls’s superb account of England viewed through the medium of its sports and pastimes. Sport is ‘woven into almost everything else we do’ and it is about something much larger than merely chasing or hitting a ball, for it is bound up with playing the game, enjoying the land, sensing the liberty, respecting contestation, valuing home, showing a bit of heart, recognising it in others, knowing that