Infused with the authors’ abiding love of their native Sligo and their lifelong infatuation with the world of sport, Local Heroes: A Celebration of Sligo Sport offers a fascinating and vivid insight into what it takes to be a bona fide local hero.
Featuring the most comprehensive collection of Sligo sports stars ever assembled between the covers of a book, award-winning journalists Jim and Leo Gray tell the gripping stories of more than 60 sportsmen and sportswomen whose exploits have earned them an exalted place in any pantheon of all-time greats.
Unlikely as it may seem, Sligo’s fingerprints are to be found at some of the world’s iconic sporting events, from the Olympic Games to the Aintree Grand National; the FA Cup final to the Tour de France; major golf tournaments to the Premier League. Those stories are related here with deep insights from the participants, history-makers who proudly put Sligo on the sporting map. But the pages are laced, too, with heroic endeavours of sportsmen and sportswomen who may not be so well known outside their native county, but whose achievements have marked them as immortal local legends.
In more than 70 essays across a vast range of sports, the veteran reporters cast a new spotlight on the county’s big occasions at venues such as Croke Park, the Aviva Stadium, Cheltenham and Olympic Games stadia, as well as taking a deep dive into the local cauldron of sporting activity, highlighting events and characters who have illuminated the county’s rich sporting heritage.
The book is intended as a permanent monument to those whose sporting greatness has enriched the lives of generations of Sligonians.
“The Sligo Champion was a kind of sacred scripture for me as a kid. In particular, the writing of Leo and Jim Gray on Sligo Rovers was gospel. If they said Rovers had played well, they’d played well; if they praised a player, I knew he was good. I trusted their judgement over that of my own eyes and pictured the Grays as sage old men with the experience of decades behind them. In fact, when they were writing about Rovers in the 70s they were young men, young enough to be writing for the Champion to this day.”
– Eamonn Sweeney, Sunday Independent, 3 October 2010
Jim and Leo Gray are identical twin brothers who between them have more than 80 years’ experience of covering Sligo sport, chiefly for the Sligo Champion, where Jim was editor and Leo sports editor for 35 years, but also for national newspapers and RTE television and radio.