I’m so grateful for the generosity of other writers, and for the kind words they have said about The Game.
Some of the praise it has received:
Donal Ryan: ‘This is a towering work. … The essays ‘Miracles’ and ‘Kisses’ are two of the most beautiful, poignant and heartfelt pieces of writing I’ve ever read. Tadhg is clear-eyed, intelligent, and unrelentingly honest about the darkness that pervades the business of sport and its capacity to arouse our basest instincts … He asks the hardest of questions and delivers unflinchingly honest answers. This is no paean … it is a brilliantly forensic and startlingly objective account of the ways that sport at once transcends, debases and delineates our humanity. Tadhg admits to feeling like an outsider but he is firmly and undeniably in the inner circle of the great sportswriters. And he is clearly, though he’d probably deny it, the truest of sportsmen.’
Sinéad Gleeson: ‘The Game is a heartfelt exploration of sport and so much more. A many-chambered book that is empathetic and engaging.’
Malachy Clerkin: ‘Any of us who write about sport will have thought about writing this kind of book at some point. An attempt to understand sport, to explain it (and us), to stake its outer boundaries in our own peculiar way. Thankfully for all concerned, Tadhg Coakley has saved the world the bother of having to plough through all that. The Game is a thoughtful, artful gem. It is a complete treat for anyone who has played sport, watched sport, read about sport or tried to write about it. It’s not quite a memoir but not quite not a memoir either. For a small book, its scope is massive and the writing is glorious.’
Rachael English: ‘Superb. I love how it captures our relationship with sport, and why it matters so much.’
Rónán Hession: ‘The Game spoke to me on many levels. A deep-thinking book that is part memoir & part meditation on the part sports plays in our own lives & in society generally. Thoughtful, moving, and beautifully written. A genuinely profound book.’
Caitriona Bennett: ‘Just finished this beautiful book. The Game is a seriously impressive read.’
Eibhear Walshe: ‘What a honest, insightful, and moving collection of essays on sport! For someone like myself who never played team sports, it was even more powerful to read, explaining the real sense of fulfilment and passion that sport brings yet honest and direct about the contradictions and darkness. I enjoyed every word I read.’
Kieran Cunningham, Irish Star: ‘Top class.’
Ciarán Murphy, Second Captains and Irish Times: ‘The Game is so, so good. Many parts stood out, but I’ve been thinking about the piece about being lost in a game [in ‘Ekstasis’] since I read it a few weeks ago too. The book is a revelation. Highly recommended.’
Mairéad Hearn, Book Blogger: ‘The Game is a very profound reflection, a stunning memoir but also it is a piercing examination of our relationship, as a society, with sport. Using his own personal experiences as a writer, a team-player and a fan Tadhg explores the wider influence of sport and its oft-times unhealthy relationship with money. He deals with the collective versus the individual and his sense of often being situated in a kind of no-man’s land. Tadhg Coakley is refreshingly honest in his words providing the reader with a very astute and intimate reading experience. Donal Ryan refers to The Game as ‘a towering work’, which really is a perfect description for this truly masterful piece of writing, an accessible and essential read for all, both sporting and literary fans alike.’ Mairéad’s full review here.
Rory Kiberd, The Irish Times: ‘This multi-faceted book ponders how sport teaches us about our own limitations, how winning is foundational on losing, losers being in far greater supply than winners; how defeats and victories are ephemeral. All lessons essential to life. Indeed, sport is like a more concentrated version of life, a microcosmic intensification of its vagaries. So, it’s fitting then that this book transcends its remit. It’s an enquiry into the philosophy of sport with universal application. Even people who’ve never kicked a ball or roared in triumph in the stands will love this. My absorption never faltered … An essential book for fans of both sport and probing essays alike.’ Rory’s full review here.
Kieran Shannon, The Irish Examiner: [The Game’s] beauty is in how personal yet universal it is, how he blends what is in some ways a sociology of sport with what is in part a memoir, making it a work of literature…Coakley writes enough and beautifully about the wonder and magic that sport can be to the child and how it remains a source of wonder to him now, for all the innocence he and sport have subsequently lost since he was kicking that ball out in the back garden nearly half a century ago. By being both that worldly adult yet always still that kid with a ball, mesmerised by the likes of George Best and Con Roche, Coakley has come up with one of the most distinctive, original, beautiful and best books on sport this country has known. A treasure.’ Kieran’s full column here.
Gráinne McGuinness, The Echo: ‘TADHG Coakley’s latest book is about sport; the role it plays in our lives and the deep devotion it inspires in so many people. But like all the best writing, in The Game: A Journey Into The Heart of Sport, Coakley is writing about much more than sport, about family and memory, and about belonging and what it is to be alive…Coakley delves deep into his mind and memories, and asks: What is sport for, what does it do to us, and why does it connect so many people?‘ Full interview with Gráinne here.
Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, The Irish Independent: ‘Coakley helped me rediscover the soul of sport, while painting a rich tapestry of pivotal sporting moments in his own life. [The Game] is brave, deceptively deep, full of life lessons, and introspection in between trips to games. The dark side of sport is dissected, too … It’s all wrapped up in an unavoidable poignancy.’