Lockdown longreads

Ten long (or medium-length) reads to help pass the time during self-isolation. From sports history to the golden age of piracy, all free to read. Enjoy and take care.

NEW: How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England

In Victorian London, a gang of U.S. hustlers attempts a ten-million-dollar heist on the safest bank in the world. Can the detective who inspired Sherlock Holmes catch them? Read this true-crime story on Longreads.

The man who walked his life away

How George Wilson, a shoemaker from Newcastle upon Tyne, became an unlikely champion in the bizarre 19th-century sport of pedestrianism – from the confines of a prison yard. Read on Deadspin.

The football team that survived the Chernobyl disaster

FC Stroitel Pripyat captain Valentin Litvin was preparing for a cup semi-final when Chernobyl’s No.4 nuclear reactor exploded: “I could see the nuclear power plant and the smoke rising above the ruins.” Read on the FourFourTwo website and listen on the FourFourTwo podcast.

Burgers with Muhammad Ali

In 1984, Russ Routledge, a down-on-his-luck amateur boxer, spent a week living with Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter of all time. Read the story of their unlikely friendship in Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron on Medium.

The mermaid hunter who invented association football

Arthur Pember titillated Victorian New York as an investigative journalist (and mermaid hunter) but before that, he was the first president of England’s Football Association and was instrumental in setting out the Laws of the Game. Read at Howler.

The last voyage of Daniel Collins

The true story of how a young U.S. mariner survived a terrible shipwreck, a brutal pirate attack, and an epic journey home, based on my ebook From A Blood Red Sea. Read the story on Medium. (Get the ebook here.)

The footballer who got away with murder

A France international, a champion cyclist, a gun, and a deadly affair. Read the story of Pierre Mony and his “crime of passion” on the The Blizzard website, and also The Guardian, or listen on The Blizzard podcast.

The life-and-death history of the message in a bottle

Lost and found messages from the sea reveal clues to the fate of missing vessels, poignant farewells from stricken sailors, and other mysterious and fascinating tales. Read the story on Medium. (Get the Messages from the Sea book here.)

Harry Trainer: international footballer and jewel thief

“The Jewel Thief” is the story of Harry Trainer, the Wrexham and Wales international footballer with a remarkable criminal record. Read on The Blizzard website and on The Guardian, or listen on The Blizzard podcast.

The lost pirate of Blackbeard’s golden age

Was Edward Robinson, “the Newcastle Pirate” who sailed with some of the Golden Age of Pricay’s most infamous figures, really a murderous sea-robber? Based on the ebook Sins Dyed in Blood. Read the story on Medium. (Get the ebook here.)

How Britain’s best soccer players survived a First World War prison camp

The extraordinary true story of Steve Bloomer and the Ruhleben Football Association, based my latest book. Read the 15-minute feature at Medium. (Get the book here.)


Online articles: FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, The Guardian, Medium

My books

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football and history. Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, The Guardian etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK

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