Leeds: 50 years of sporting memories from John

John Rigg now. Below, as a boy.
John Rigg now. Below, as a boy.
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Fifty years ago, a wide-eyed Leeds boy perched on his dad’s shoulders at his first rugby match.

Now, all grown up and still sports mad, author John Rigg has decided to share his memories of five decades as a fan in the stands at rugby, cricket and football.

In An Ordinary Spectator: 50 Years of Watching Sport, John, 57, looks at a series of sporting events over the past half a century as well as examining why fans become so hooked on sport, returning to it time and time again.

John said the idea for the book was partly inspired by a very personal discovery at the home of his late father in Moortown.

He said: “It was inspired by the realisation that last year was the 50th anniversary of my dad taking me to my first rugby match.

“Also when my dad, Bill, died in 2004 my sister and I were cleaning out his house and we came across a big chest full of match programmes and sports memorabilia that he’d collected and I’d added to over the years.

“That brought it home to me that my life was in that box.”

As a boy, John started out following rugby in Hunslet like his dad, quickly graduating to watching the Yorkshire County Cricket side of the 1960s that featured stars like Brian Close and Geoff Boycott.

It was at that time that he also inevitably became a Leeds United fan.

John, who now lives in Scotland, said: “That was a fabulous time to be watching football in Leeds.

“What I’ve tried to do in the book is look at what I call the Seven Ages of Watching Sport- from the awestruck novice to the elderly childlike sage.

“The thing about sport is, it’s a great leveller for the fans and the players. I can remember going to see Viv Richards hit an enormous six out of the ground and then get bowled out the next ball – that’s what happens in sport.”

An Ordinary Spectator: 50 Years of Watching Sport is available from www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk, price £20.

Sample extracts and more information about the book and the author can be found on the website: www.anordinaryspectator.com