"A scholarly and sober examination of the historical uses of British leisure time ... full of statistics that will amaze and astound your friends ... a useful and unusual addition to the small library of sports books that educate as well as simply inform."
Nick Hornby, in The Sunday Times
"The best available introductory history on this topic from the Middle Ages to the early 1800s … Brailsford is probably the leading expert on British sport in the early modern period … the book is valuable for the undergraduate student and those interested in sport and society in Britain."
"Well worth the effort for those eager to know why and how football, racing and cricket became the very epitome of English sport."
"A fascinating study … useful for students of sport/ physical education courses from G.C.S.E. to degree level. Anyone with a love of sport, no matter which sport it is, will be fascinated by this lively and critical account."
All Sport & Leisure Monthly
"Dennis Brailsford's splendid little book gives amusing and instructive insights into the fact that there is little in today's sports which has not figured in bygone centuries. There is something for everyone."
"Dennis Brailsford is the doyen of British historians of sport. The most striking of his qualities is again much in evidence – a confident, polished and elegant style. Brailsford has produced a pleasant collection of available information on the evolution of English sport in a highly readable form and with good tempered judgements on men (mostly) and matters. Much to his credit he does attempt to set sport in its cultural context, and his attractive facility with his pen ensures that he does this with effective aplomb."
Tony Mangan, in The Scottish Journal of Physical Education
"An immensely valuable work which will introduce the undergraduate and postgraduate student to some of the main concerns of social historians about British sport."
Richard Cashman, University of New South Wales
"Hailed for the 'doyen of British histories of sport', this comprehensive title is one of the most affordable of the major reference works in the field of the social side of sport."
Graham Sharpe, in All Sport & Leisure Monthly