Author Interview: Geoffrey Littlefield – Last Night When I Was Young, Or Way To Go, Sport

July 30, 2022

By BRUCE DENNILL

Bestselling author Geoffrey Littlefield’s Last Night When I Was Young: Sporting Favourites of Mine takes readers on a sentimental stroll down a memory lane lined with elite athletes of the past. Littlefield masterfully intertwines history-making moments and mini biographies of some of the UK’s greatest athletes of the 1950s and 60s with stories from his own experiences. The result is an immersive read that gives audiences a front row seat for all the action, as told from the perspective of a self-described “walking, talking sports encyclopedia and BBC sports quiz champion” who, as a school-aged boy, enjoyed nothing more than emulating his athletic idols.

Last Night When I Was Young is informative, entertaining and comprehensive in its coverage of both male and female athletes from the era, including jockeys Doug Smith and Fred Winter; Chelsea and England footballer Jimmy Greaves; cricketer PBH May; tennis star Mike Sangster; boxer Dick Tiger; racecar driver Mike Hawthorn; golfer Peter Alliss; sprinter Dorothy Hyman; and long jumper Mary Rand, among others. The book also contains contributions from the Queen’s racehorse trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, and four-time world speedway champion, Barry Briggs MBE.

 

When, and under what circumstances, did the idea for your latest book come to you?

I had the idea a couple of years back when reminiscing about my sporting heroes growing up. I figured that others of a similar age may find it informative and entertaining. I and started to structure it in my mind , then I started writing it shortly after.

 

Did it initially feel like something to commit to, or was that something that took time to develop?

I had written a couple of screenplays prior to this project so knew that I could start and finish.

 

How did you conduct your research or other preparation before writing – was it more experiential or more academic or desk-based?

I have a very good memory of my early years and had an encyclopaedic memory of sports back then. I drew on that and also revisited career materials on each subject to ensure that my facts were accurate and that my memory was as accurate as I thought it was!

 

If resources (money, time, whatever) were no object, what additional groundwork would you like to have completed?

I don’t believe that unlimited resources would have necessarily made my book any better, it is what it is, but possibly adding an audible version would have been a nice option.

 

When considering influence, do you find yourself wanting to write like someone (in terms of their style, tone or use of language), or aiming for a kind of perspective or storytelling approach you admire or enjoy?

I don’t knowingly copy anyone’s writing style or indeed are aware of any influences. I have read and heard a lot of sports reporting over the years so I guess my own writing style may be influenced by that. I write in my own way, I hope that the reader regardless of reading age find my books to be an “easy read” that they find both informative and entertaining.

 

What’s in your to-read pile – and what upcoming book (other than yours!) are you most looking forward to?

I have a number in my pile, both fiction and non-fiction. The one I am most looking forward to is Double Cross by Ben Macintyre.

 

Do you have a favourite character that you have created? Or if you’re writing non-fiction, do you have a specific topic that you find endlessly fascinating?

In non-fiction, there’s no specific topic, but I’m always fascinated by anything film-, sport- or American popular music genre-related.

 

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