Hamilton takes William Hill prize for a third time with brilliant biography of the venerated cricket and music scribe Neville Cardus

Judges declare themselves 'bowled over' by Hamilton's work

Duncan Hamilton won the award twice before, in 2007 and 2009
Duncan Hamilton won the award
twice before, in 2007 and 2009
Duncan Hamilton has won the 2019 William Hill Sports Book of the Year with his book The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus.

By winning the £30,000 award, presented by judge Mark Lawson at the Horseguards Hotel,  Hamilton became the first person to have won the award three times.

The Newcastle-born writer, who spent his journalistic career in Nottingham and Leeds, was previously successful with Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough in 2007 and Harold Larwood: The Authorized Biography in 2009.

Cardus, the venerated cricket writer and music journalist, changed the way in which sport was reported and introduced poise and eloquence into what had traditionally been a prosaic experience for both journalist and fan.

Alyson Rudd, Chair of Judges, said: “The judges were bowled over by the quality of the writing and the way in which Hamilton brings to life the characters that defined cricket between the two world wars.

"The author explains that Neville Cardus was unknowable but this book does a very fine job indeed of guiding us through his career and motivations.”

In The Great Romantic, Duncan Hamilton demonstrates how Cardus popularised cricket by appealing, in Cardus’ words, to people who ‘didn’t know a leg-break from the pavilion cat at Lord’s’.

Cardus, whose observations appeared in the pages of what was then the Manchester Guardian, became a star in his own right with exquisite phrase-making, disdain for statistics and a penchant for literary and musical allusions.

However behind the rhapsody in blue skies, green grass and colourful characters, this richly evocative biography finds that Cardus’s mother was a sex worker, he never knew his father and he received negligible education. Infatuations with younger women ran parallel to a decidedly unromantic marriage. And, astonishingly, this supreme stylist’s aversion to factual accuracy led to his reporting on a match he didn’t attend.

Yet Cardus also belied his impoverished origins to prosper in another class-conscious profession, becoming a music critic of international renown. In this definitive biography, Duncan Hamilton casts light on the enigmatic character and immense achievements of a remarkable all-rounder.

Hamilton beat off a strong field to take the prize, including another two-time previous winner in Donald McRae.

The other shortlisted books were (in alphabetical order): 

The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey To Edge of Human Endurance – Adharanand Finn (Faber & Faber)
In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles - Donald McRae (Hodder & Stoughton)
Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Wildest Horse Race – Lara Prior-Palmer (Penguin Random House)
Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump – Rick Reilly (Headline Publishing Group)
Position of Trust: A Football Dream Betrayed – Andy Woodward (Hodder & Stoughton).

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, first awarded in 1989 to True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson, is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize.

The Great Romantic is the sixth cricket book to win the award and the first to do so since Hamilton’s book Harold Larwood won in 2009.

With Times sportswriter and novelist Rudd as Chair, the judging panel consisted of: journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson; retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle; Olympic medallist and Chair of UK Sport Katherine Grainger; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale and the broadcaster Danny Kelly.



Ex-Palace striker Mark Bright's moving story among new football titles

OUT NOW:  A selection of the latest football books

Mark Bright, the former Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday striker, is the week’s headline-maker with his autobiography, My Story: From Foster Care to Footballer (Constable), which has been featured or serialised in a number of national newspapers, including an excellent piece for the Mail on Sunday by James Sharpe.

Written with the help of Kevin Brennan, who has previously ghosted for ex-Scotland footballer John McGovern, snooker player Willie Thorne and football manager Alan Curbishley, the book describes Bright’s journey from a troubled upbringing in Staffordshire, to earning £10-a-week for his first contract at Port Vale and finally reaching the top of the game, forming a famous partnership with Ian Wright at Crystal Palace and playing in two FA Cup finals before retiring to a career as a sometime media pundit and now full-time coach at Palace.

It is an engaging, sometimes harrowing story. Particularly moving and insightful is his account of his tough childhood in the 1960s and early ‘70s, abandoned by his mother and promptly put into care by a father who could not handle the responsibility, finally settling with a loving foster family in Kidsgrove, and his coming to terms in later life with the effect it had on him.

Another former star whose autobiography has arrived on the shelves in time for Christmas is Tottenham Hotspur icon Steve Perryman, whose record of 854 first-team appearances for Spurs will almost certainly never be beaten.

Perryman was captain for more than 550 of those matches, winning two UEFA cups, two FA Cups, and two League cups in his time at White Hart Lane.   In Steve Perryman: A Spur Forever (Vision Sports Publishing) - a beautifully presented book that includes more than 150 illustrations alongside the text - Perryman Steve recalls players he shared the dressing room with, managers he learnt from and many colourful opponents on the pitch. Perryman had a second career in management, including a spell working with Ossie Ardiles at Spurs, and made a bold decision to work in Japan, enjoying a successful stint in charge of J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse, winning the league title and the Asian Cup-Winners’ Cup.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s really going on behind the scenes during those frenetic closing hours and minutes of football’s twice-yearly transfer window, then Boot Sale: Inside the Strange and Secret World of Football's Transfer Window (Yellow Jersey) may be the book to answer your questions.

Writer Nige Tassell speaks to players, managers, chairmen, agents, scouts, analysts, fans, journalists, broadcasters and even bookmakers to hear their experiences of what has become a key period during the football season.

Tassell is the author of The Bottom Corner: A Season with the Dreamers of Non-League Football, also published by Yellow Jersey.

Fans from one half of Manchester will love Manchester City: 125 Years - Our Unseen History (Reach Sport), published to coincide with the club’s 125th anniversary in 2019, which brings together rarely seen pictures from those 125 years in a lovingly-compiled memento.



Heavyweights slug it out for title hat-trick

Donald McRae and Duncan Hamilton both named on shortlist for William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2019

Duncan Hamilton
Duncan Hamilton
Two of British sports writing’s biggest names are among a shortlist of six titles from which the 2019 William Hill Sports Book of the Year will be chosen in early December.

Donald McRae and Duncan Hamilton, the only authors to have won the award twice in its 30-year history, both made the final cut after the award’s judging panel whittled down a longlist of 14 to come up with their final selection.

South African-born McRae, whose in-depth interviews are an outstanding feature of The Guardian newspaper’s sports pages, won the judges’ vote with Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing in 1996, and with In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens in 2002.

Hamilton, born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, raised in Nottingham and now an adoptive Yorkshireman, was successful in 2007 with Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough, and again two years later with his biography of ‘Bodyline’ fast bowler Harold Larwood.

Donald McRae
Donald McRae
McRae is in contention for this year’s £30,000 cash prize with In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles, published by Simon & Schuster, which charts trainer Gerry Storey’s experience training both Republican and Loyalist boxers – including future world champion Barry McGuigan - at the height of unrest in Northern Ireland, in spite of the grave personal jeopardy he would face.

Hamilton makes the shortlist with The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus (Hodder & Stoughton), an affectionate story of how a child born into an impoverished and dysfunctional background in Manchester defied his circumstances to become one of the most influential sports writers of all time.

The other titles chosen for final consideration are Adharanand Finn’s latest exploration into long distance running - Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance (Faber & Faber); Lara Prior Palmer’s spirited recollection of unexpectedly claiming victory, at just 19 years old, at the 1000km Mongol derby of 2013 in Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Wildest Horse Race (Penguin Random House); Position of Trust: A Football Dream Betrayed (Hodder & Stoughton), whose author Andy Woodward was one of the first to bring to light the child sex abuse scandal that has shamed the footballing world; and Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump (Headline Publishing Group), in which author Rick Reilly exposes the widely acknowledged and damaging duplicity behind the 45th US President’s success on the golf course.

Chair of the judging panel Alyson Rudd, the author and sports journalist, commented: “From another strong longlist, we now have an exceptional ‘Big Six’ going forward to the final stage, and the race really is wide open.

“This year’s shortlist not only showcases the often eye-opening struggles and solace that can accompany sporting achievement, but also provides astonishing insight into the complexity of the protagonists. Above all, the writing is impressive, ranging from assured to witty to deeply moving.”

The other members of judging panel are retired footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association Clarke Carlisle; five-time Olympic medallist and rower Dame Katherine Grainger; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly and journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson.

The winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2019 will be announced at an afternoon reception at The Royal Horseguards Hotel on Thursday December 5.



The Boy on the Shed, Berlin 1936, Tiger Woods and Red Card among the winners at the 2019 Telegraph Sports Book of the Year awards

The winners at the Telegraph Sports Book of the Year awards 2019 were as follows:

Autobiography of the Year: The Boy on the Shed, by Paul Ferris (Hodder)

The candid and gripping story of a boy raised in Lisburn, near Belfast during The Troubles who became a professional footballer with Newcastle United, saw his career at the top level wrecked by injury, won a Wembley final with Barrow as a non-League player, returned to Newcastle as before quitting the game to study Law and qualify as a barrister - only to return to Newcastle as a member of Alan Shearer’s management team.


The Sporting Club General Outstanding Book of the Year: Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August, by Oliver Hilmes

Berlin 1936 was the Nazi Olympics, the moment when the world’s attention turned to the German capital as it hosted the Olympic Games, the one in which Hitler was happy to extend the hand of welcome to visitors from all nations but in which he hoped to see his athletes confirm his belief that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Alongside the drama in the stadium as the black athlete Jesse Owens embarrassed the Fuhrer by winning four gold medals, the author goes behind the scenes to paint a picture, seen through the eyes of Nazi leaders and foreign diplomats, athletes and journalists, nightclub owners and jazz musicians of a vibrant and diverse city about to be plunged into its darkest days.


Biography of the Year: Tiger Woodsby Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)

In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, living what appeared to be the perfect life. But he had been living a double life – one that exploded in the aftermath of a late-night crash and sent his personal and professional life off a cliff.  Sweeping in scope and packed with groundbreaking details, Sports Illustrated feature writer Jeff Benedict and television journalist Armen Keteyian track the Shakespearean rise and fall of an icon.


Football Book of the Year: Red Card: FIFA and the Fall of the Most Powerful Men in Sport, by Ken Bensinger (Profile Books)

The story of how greed and arrogance brought down the most powerful institution in sporting history.  US journalist Ken Bensinger, who as a Buzzfeed staffer was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, takes the reader into a world of power, betrayal and revenge, sports stars and hustlers, corruption, sex and phenomenal quantities of money, and to exotic places from sun-drenched Caribbean beaches to the formal staterooms of the Kremlin and the heat of Doha, Qatar, following the dogged pursuit of the FIFA’s wealthy elite by American FBI and IRS agents, headed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who finally brought them to book.


Heineken Rugby Book of the Year: Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream, by Ben Ryan (W&N)

The story of how coach Ben Ryan, a 40-year-old bespectacled Englishman, took the Fiji sevens side to Olympic gold, having agreed to the job of coaching their players after being given just 20 minutes to decide. He was able, by saying yes, to set in motion an extraordinary journey that ended in Rio not only with an Olympic gold medal but with Ryan feeling that the job had brought him "three years of enlightenment" in the South Pacific.  An enthralling read.


Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year: Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket, by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston (Bloomsbury)

With their strong personalities and distinctive voices, John Arlott and E.W. ‘Jim’ Swanton transformed the broadcasting of cricket into a national institution. The game was entering a new era, and these two men, from different backgrounds, one the son of a humble cemetery registrar in Basingstoke, the other the public-school educated son of a London stockbroker, were thrown together in trying to save the soul of the game they loved as it entered a different era.  It has been described as “a chronicle of 20th-century class difference, elegantly observed through the lives of the two men and their attitudes towards their beloved sport.”


Cycling Book of the Year: Full Gas: How to Win a Bike Race – Tactics from Inside the Peloton, by Peter Cossins (Yellow Jersey)

Cycling has come a long way since the only real tactic in Grand Tour events was to ride as fast as you could for as long as you could. Winners sometimes finished hours ahead of the field. Now a minute’s delay thanks to a puncture could ruin a rider’s chances over a three-week race.  The intricacies and complexities of cycling are such that an eye for opportunity and a quick mind are just as crucial to success as the strength and form of the man in the saddle. Cycling journalist Peter Cossins listens as pro cyclists and directeurs sportifs explain their tactics: when it went right, when they got it wrong – from sprinting to summits, from breakaways to bluffing.


Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year: Running Life: Mindset, Fitness & Nutrition for Positive Wellbeing, by Dame Kelly Holmes (Kyle Books)

Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly draws on her own experiences of overcoming depression and a raft of injuries to achieve her Olympic dream.  She offers guidance on fitness and wellbeing with easy-to-follow mindfulness exercises aimed at achieving optimum emotional health, on how to keep your body strong with easy exercises you can perform anywhere, plus Kelly’s top running tips, and how to learn which foods best nourish your body, with five ways to improve the way you eat.


Getty Images Illustrated Book of the Year: The Beautiful Badge: The Stories Behind the Football Club Badge, by Martyn Routledge & Elspeth Wills (Pitch Publishing)

The Beautiful Badge is the first book to explore the history of football club badges, looking at what inspired them, who crafted them and how fans reacted. Extensive illustrations show how badges followed fashion, negotiated copyright and expressed the aspirations of owners, managers and fans.


The Telegraph is this year’s headline sponsor for what was formerly called the British Sports Book Awards, the major annual promotion for sports writing and publishing, originally conceived as part of the famous National Sporting Club’s banqueting campaign programme. It soon became evident that there was room for a major celebration of the best sports writing and the Sports Book Awards were born in 2002.

Read more: Shortlists announced for the Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2019



Shortlists announced for Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2019

Nine categories to be judged as new sponsor starts three-year backing

The shortlists have been announced for the annual Sports Book Awards, now sponsored by The Telegraph after the newspaper group signed up to a three-year partnership deal.

The Telegraph replaces Cross Pens as headline sponsor. The awards were launched by the National Sporting Club in 2003 and for many years were known simply as the British Sports Book Awards.

There are nine categories being judged this year, with the winners of each to be announced early in June.

In the autobiography category, former Newcastle physio Paul Ferris’s extraordinary memoir The Boy on the Shed is joined by equestrian Charlotte Dujardin’s The Girl on the Dancing Horse, Kevin Keegan’s My Life in Football, cricketer Moeen Ali’s Moeen, How to be a Footballer by Peter Crouch and superbike star Jonathan Rea’s Dream. Believe. Achieve.

The biography category sees boxing, golf, motor racing, rowing, gambling and football represented by Mike Stanton’s Unbeaten: The Triumph and Tragedy of Rocky Marciano, Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen by Kari Hotakainen, More Power: The Story of Jurgen Grobler by Hugh Matheson and Christopher Dodd, Jamie Reid’s Monsieur X and Messi: Lessons in Style by Jordi Punti.

The football category shortlist comprises When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson, The Club: How the Premier League became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport by Joshua Robinson and Jonathon Clegg, Jonathan Wilson’s The Barcelona Legacy, The Away Game: The Epic Search for Football’s Next Superstars by Sebastian Abbot, Michael Calvin’s State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game, Ken Bensinger’s Red Card: FIFA and the Fall of the Most Powerful Men in Sport, Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football by Rob Smyth and Uli Hesse’s Building the Yellow Wall: The Incredible Rise and Cult Appeal of Borussia Dortmund.

On the shortlist for The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year are Steve Smith’s Men by Geoff Lemon, Derek Pringle’s Pushing the Boundaries: Cricket in the Eighties, Mark Peel’s Playing the Game?: Cricket's Tarnished Ideals, No Spin: My Autobiography by Shane Warne, Simon Wilde’s England: The Biography and Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston.

In the running for Heineken Rugby Book of the Year are The Last Amateurs: The incredible story of Ulster's 1999 European champions by Jonathan Bradley, The Jersey: The Secrets Behind the World's Most Successful Team by Peter Bills, Ben Ryan’s Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream, Rugby: Talking a Good Game by Ian Robertson, Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie, and Ivon by Michael Aylwin.

The cycling category comprises The Tour According to G by Geraint Thomas, Edward Pickering’s The Ronde: Inside the World's Toughest Bike Race, Sunday in Hell by William Fotheringham, My World by Peter Sagan, Full Gas: How to Win a Bike Race – Tactics from Inside the Peloton by Peter Cossins and Mark Beaumont’s Around the World in 80 Days.

Listed in the general outstanding sports book category are Toby Vincent’s thriller set in the world of Formula One, The Ringmaster, Sport Inc. Why Money is the Winner in the Business of Sport by Ed Warner, Michael Parkinson’s George Best: A Memoir, Epic: In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters by Simon Barnes, Oliver Hilmes’s Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August and A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory.

The sports health and fitness book of the year contenders are Running Up That Hill by Vassos Alexander, Dame Kelly Holmes’s Running Life: Mindset, fitness & nutrition for positive wellbeing, Bella Mackie's Jog On: How Running Saved My LifeSir Chris Hoy’s How to Ride a Bike, Dare to Tri: My Journey from the BBC Breakfast Sofa to GB Team Triathlete by Louise Minchin and Cooking for Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better by James Haskell and Omar Meziane.

And finally, the Getty Images Illustrated Book of the Year candidates are Waiting by Richard Kelley, The Sporting Horse by Nicola Jane Swinney and  Bob Langrish MBE, The Beautiful Badge by Martyn Routledge and Elspeth Wills, Leander: The First 200 Years by Anthony Fiennes Trotman, David Tremayne’s Jim Clark: The Best of the Best, International Football Kits: The Illustrated Guide by John Devlin, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s I Am Football and A Year in the Frame by Edward Whitaker.

Michael Calvin, Jonathan Wilson and Edward Whitaker are all past winners of awards. Michael Parkinson was the recipient of the 2015 award for outstanding contribution to sports writing.

Tom Gregory could pick up a second major award with A Boy in the Water, the story of how he became the youngest person to swim the English Channel, having already been the joint-winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award last year.

The winners in all categories will be revealed at a dinner at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on June 4.

More details at https://sportsbookawards.com/



William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2018 has TWO winners in unprecedented decision

Award split for first time after judges cannot separate Tom Gregory's swimming epic A Boy in the Water and Paul D Gibson's boxing tale The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee

For the first time in its 30-year history, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award has joint winners.

Broadcaster John Inverdale told guests at a reception at BAFTA in London to announce the 2018 winner that the judges had been unable to decide between Tom Gregory’s extraordinary debut book A Boy in the Water (Particular Books) and Paul D Gibson’s boxing tale The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee (Mercier Press).

As a result, they took the unprecedented step of declaring the two books joint winners, which means the £30,000 cash prize is split equally between the two titles, with both authors receiving a £15,000 cheque.

A Boy in the Water tells the story of how Tom Gregory, now a director with the accountancy firm Deloitte, swam the English Channel on September 6, 1988 to become at the age of 11 years 336 days the youngest person to achieve the feat.

In the days before health and safety regulations, Gregory was trained by his local swimming coach in southeast London, who took him undertake open water swims in Lake Windermere, London Docks and the sea at Dover, so that he could attune his body to long exposure to the cold.

The moment 11-year-old Tom Gregory emerged from the English Channel at Dover after his record feat
The moment 11-year-old Tom Gregory emerged from
the English Channel at Dover after his record feat
When it came to setting off on a 32-mile route from the coast of France to Dover, Tom had no wetsuit, merely a bright orange rubber cap and some Adidas trunks.

With coach John Bullet encouraging him from the support boat, he sustained himself on swigs of Heinz tomato soup and the occasional chocolate biscuit.

At points along the way, he fell asleep, hallucinated, developed agonising hip and shoulder pain, and cried so much that his goggles filled with water.

However, he kept pushing himself to finish the job, securing the world record - and as an extra bonus, a coveted Blue Peter gold badge.

It is a record Tom will keep. After his incredible achievement, children under 12 – and later, under 16 – were banned from attempting to swim the Channel.

Tom Gregory now works for the  accounts firm Deloitte
Tom Gregory now works for the
accounts firm Deloitte
Journalist Gibson’s The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee, the other joint winner, explores the extraordinary highs and lows of one of Ireland’s most talented boxers, whose vices fuelled his career while also jeopardising it.

Magee is widely regarded as one of the most gifted fighters ever to emerge from Ireland. Coming from a boxing-obsessed family, he worked his way up through the amateur ranks, turning professional in 1995. In 2002, he took on Ricky Hatton in a highly-anticipated sell-out fight in Manchester. Magee lost narrowly in what Hatton’s trainer, Billy Graham, called Hatton’s toughest fight to that point.

Yet, despite becoming a world champion in 2003, drink, drugs, gambling, depression, brushes with the law – and with the IRA – all took Eamonn away from his craft. Then there was the violence: a kidnapping, a throat slashed, a bullet in the calf, a savage, leg-shattering beating.

On retiring from the ring, Eamonn turned his attention to training and overseeing his son’s boxing career, only to be met with the ultimate tragedy in 2015 when Eamonn Junior was brutally stabbed to death in West Belfast in a premeditated attack.

Eamonn Magee was one of the most gifted boxers to emerge from Ireland yet his toughest fights were outside the ring
Eamonn Magee was one of the most gifted boxers to emerge
from Ireland yet his toughest fights were outside the ring 
The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee, the fifth boxing title to win the William Hill award, is an intimate telling of a barely believable life story, filled with heartache and laughter, violence and love, unthinkable lows and fleeting, glorious highs.

It is also the first win for independent publisher Mercier Press. A Boy in the Water is the first swimming – and the third water sports – title to be successful and the first win for the Penguin Random House imprint, Particular Books.

Graham Sharpe, chair of the judges and co-founder of the award, said: “In the 30 years since launching the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, we have occasionally considered, but never ultimately awarded, a dead heat. This year, after hours of deliberation, our judging panel found it impossible to separate these two jointly deserving but very different books.

“We found Tom’s story to be captivating, entertaining and beautifully told, in just 180 brilliantly-crafted pages.

Broadcaster John Inverdale
Broadcaster John Inverdale
“Paul’s rivetingly raw account of Eamonn Magee’s life is a powerful and cautionary tale of one man’s sporting success despite himself. Astonishing and utterly gripping, we felt this was a story which attracted and repelled in equal measure but which demanded to be heard, and could not be ignored.''

Williams and Gibson attended the ceremony along with fellow his fellow shortlisted authors King Adz, Jeff Benedict, Paul Ferris, Oliver Hilmes and Ben Ryan, each of whom received a leather-bound copy of their book and a £3,000 cheque.

As well as Sharpe, the judging panel for this year’s Award comprised John Inverdale, fellow journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson, retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association Clarke Carlisle, broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney and The Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd.

Sharpe, who has had a long career with William Hill, set up the award in 1988 alongside John Gaustad, founder of the much-missed Sportspages bookshop, who passed away in 2016.

First awarded in 1989 to True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson, it is now the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize.

The seven titles on the shortlist were:

Ten other titles made a longlist:



2018 Cross Sports Book of the Year Awards: all the winners are named

Brave Paralympian Martine Wright scoops Autobiography prize

Add caption
The inspiring story of the GB Paralympic athlete Martine Wright has been named Sports Autobiography of the Year at the 16th Sports Book Awards and will be a strong contender for overall Sports Book of the Year for 2018, which will be decided by a public vote.

Written in collaboration with journalist Sue Mott, Unbroken, published by Simon & Schuster, tells the remarkable story of Martine’s incredible fight back from the horrors of the July 7 atrocities in London in 2005, when she was sharing a carriage on a tube train on the Circle Line with a suicide bomber, who detonated his device just outside Aldgate station. Seven passengers around her were killed among 52 who lost their lives that day but she survived, albeit at the cost of both her legs.

Martine, who took up wheelchair tennis and sitting volleyball as part of her rehabilitation, represented Great Britain in the latter at the 2012 Paralympics.

Her story is one of trauma and tragedy but is also one of immense hope and the fortitude of the human spirit, not only in her sporting achievement but in rebuilding and even enriching her life in the years that followed.

On Twitter, Martine said she was “still in shock” at being named as the winner of the award.

She thanked family and friends for their help and support and in particular “the wonderful and very talented” Sue Mott.

She was presented with her award at the awards ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground by Dame Katherine Grainger, the head of a judging panel that included the author of the 2017 Autobiography of the Year, Joey Barton, plus Simon Halliday, the chairman of European Rugby, Mail on Sunday sports editor Alison Kervin and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.

Unbroken beat off fierce competition, with former Formula One world champion Jenson Button, Yorkshire and England cricketer Jonny Bairstow, leading tennis coach Judy Murray, footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa and 13 times Isle of Man TT champion Michael Dunlop among those whose autobiographies were shortlisted.

In the other categories, Wrecking Ball (Headline), by Saracens and England star Billy Vunipola, was awarded the London Sporting Club Rugby Book of the Year as judged by The Rugby Writers.

James Montague’s examination of football’s super rich owners The Billionaires Club (Bloomsbury) won the Coutts Football Book of the Year, judged by The Football Writers’ Association. Montague’s book triumphed over a field that included studies of past and present managerial greats Sir Matt Busby, Mauricio Pochettino and Bob Paisley.

A special award recognising Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing was given to 92-year-old cricket writer John Woodcock, who was cricket correspondent for The Times for 35 years and edited Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack for seven years.

Tributes to Woodcock were voiced by former England captain Michael Atherton, who is the current Times cricket correspondent and a Sky broadcaster, by Channel Five cricket broadcaster and former Hampshire batsman Mark Nicholas. Another former England captain and Sky pundit, the fast bowler Bob Willis, collected the award on Woodcock’s behalf.

Over and Out (Pitch Publishing), Steve Neal’s story about Albert Trott, the Australian cricketer who was the first and, it is thought, the only player ever to have hit a ball over the top of the Lord’s Pavilion, was named The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year, while Andy McGrath’s Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire (Bloomsbury), which was the William Hill Sports Book of the Year last November, picked up The Full Time Cover Cycling Book of the Year award.

The six-time champion jockey and three-time Derby Winner Kieren Fallon received the prize for Cross International Autobiography of the Year for Form: My Autobiography (Simon & Schuster), while Centaur (Transworld) another harrowing tale of fighting back from adversity written by Declan Murphy, the former jockey who was horrifically injured in a fall at Haydock Park in 1994, was named Right To Play General Outstanding Sports Book of the Year, with the award presented by Elise Christie, who is an ambassador for the charity, Right To Play.

The Times Biography of the Year award was given to Ali: A Life (Simon & Schuster), Jonathan Eig’s comprehensive account of arguably the greatest ever sportsman, Muhammed Ali.

The Thomson Reuters Illustrated Book of the Year went to The History Makers (Pitch Publishing), by Sarah Juggins and Richard Stainthorpe, the story of the incredible Olympic Gold medal success of the GB women’s hockey team.

Each of the nine winning titles is now put to an online public vote to determine the overall Sports Book of the Year in association with The Times.

Everyone who votes at www.sportsbookawards.com is entered into a prize draw to win £100 of National Book Tokens. The public vote is open for a week, until midday on Friday June 15, with the winner announced shortly afterwards.



Oliver Kay’s Forever Young is voted the 2017 Cross Sports Book of the Year

Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - Football's Lost Genius.

Oliver Kay is chief football correspondent at The Times
Oliver Kay is chief football correspondent at The Times
Times football journalist Oliver Kay has won the 2017 Cross Sports Book of the Year award for his debut book Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius.

Kay, the newspaper’s Chief Football Correspondent, was named as the overall winner after sports book fans were asked to vote for their favourite among the nine category winners selected by the judges and announced at a ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground last month.

Forever Young, which charts the tragically short life of former Manchester United player Doherty, was written with the co-operation of Doherty’s family in Belfast and Kay thanked them in a tweet on learning the news, declaring himself to be “amazed and delighted”.

Read The Sports Bookshelf's review of Forever Young

Doherty, a maverick character among United’s golden generation of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers, was rated by his peers as the best of them all, a player with natural ball skills and lightning pace.

Sadly, his career was cut short before it had really begun by a knee injury but the path he followed after football was not typical and assumptions made about the circumstances of his death proved to be wide of the mark.

Forever Young, which was Football Book of the Year with the judges, polled highest with the public among a strong field that included controversial footballer Joey Barton, whose No Nonsense won the Autobiography of the Year category.

No Nonsense was written in collaboration with Michael Calvin, the distinguished sports writer who was ghostwriter when rugby player Gareth Thomas won the overall prize in 2015 with Proud, and who won in his own right the year before with The Nowhere Men, his widely acclaimed insight into the life of football’s largely anonymous army of talent scouts.

The other category winners included Find a Way by Diana Nyad, which was judged International Autobiography of the Year, telling the story of how she became the first person to swim the shark-infested waters between Cuba and Florida with no cage for protection.

British and Irish Lions second row forward Paul O'Connell’s The Battle won the Rugby Book of the Year award, whilst Tour de France cycling legend Chris Boardman secured the Cycling Book of the year with Triumphs and Turbulence: My Autobiography.

Broadcaster and former cricketer Mark Nicholas won The Cricket Book of the Year for his memoir called A Beautiful Game. And The Sun Shines Now, by Adrian Tempany, which deconstructs the dramatic changes that have taken place in English football in the 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster, was awarded New Writer of the Year.

The Lane by Adam Powley, Martin Cloake and former Tottenham Hotspur captain Steve Perryman, was named Illustrated Book of the Year.

Biography of the Year was Robert Wainwright’s story of The Maverick Mountaineer, the eccentric climber George Finch.

A special award for Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing was presented on the awards night to arguably the most outstanding writer of our generation, Hugh McIlvanney.

The complete list of category winners:

Cross Autobiography of the Year - No Nonsense: The Autobiography by Joey Barton (Simon & Schuster)

The Times Biography of the Year - The Maverick Mountaineerby Robert Wainwright (Atlantic Books)

The Professional Cricketers’ Association Cricket Book of the Year - A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas (Allen & Unwin)

Maserati Cycling Book of the Year - Triumphs and Turbulence:My Autobiography by Chris Boardman (Ebury Press)

Specsavers Football Book of the Year - Forever Young by Oliver Kay (Quercus)

Thomson Reuters Illustrated Book of the Year  - The Lane by Adam Powley, Steve Perryman & Martin Cloake (Vision Sports Publishing)

Artbuthnot Latham Rugby Book of the Year  - The Battle by Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)

Freshtime New Writer of the Year - And The Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany (Faber & Faber)

Best International Autobiography Award - Find A Way by Diana Nyad (Penguin Randomhouse).


High quality shortlist for autobiography prize as the countdown begins ahead of 2017 Cross Sports Book Awards

The shortlist announced in the autobiography section of the Cross Sports Book Awards for 2017 features two footballers, two Olympic athletes, a cricketer and a Formula One world champion.

Those hoping to clinch the top prize when the winners are announced at Lord’s Cricket Ground next month are:

No Nonsense: The Autobiography, by Joey Barton (Simon & Schuster)
Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography, by Damon Hill (Macmillan)
This Mum Runs, by Jo Pavey (Yellow Jersey, PRH)
Unexpected: The Autobiography, by Greg Rutherford (Simon & Schuster)
Unguarded: My Autobiography, by Jonathan Trott (Sphere, Little Brown)
A Life in Football: My Autobiography, by Ian Wright (Constable, Little Brown)

The titles from the longlist that missed the cut were: Triumphs & Turbulence, by Chris Boardman (Ebury, PRH); What Doesn’t Kill You… by Johnny Herbert (Transworld); Firestarter, by Ben Stokes (Headline); The Inside Track, by Laura Trott & Jason Kenny (Michael O’Mara); From Nowhere, by Jamie Vardy (Ebury, PRH) and The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb (Simon & Schuster).

There is some great reading among the six books on the list, all of which reflect the need for a modern sports autobiography to be somewhat more than a catalogue of highlights and anecdotes to persuade the reader to part with his or her cash.

Ian Wright
Ian Wright
None of the titles on the list reflects this more than Ian Wright’s autobiography, A Life in Football, in which ghost writer Lloyd Bradley translates the natural intelligence and observational astuteness of the former tearaway into considered analysis of many aspects of the game that gave him his living, from tactics and training methods to fellow players and managers. His assessment of Arsène Wenger, man and coach, offers a particularly interesting insight, as does his honest appraisal of his own career.

Joey Barton’s thoughts in his book, crafted by the expert hand of Michael Calvin – who ghosted the 2015 category winner, Proud, for rugby star Gareth Thomas, and is an award-winner in his own right – are as forthright as you would expect from a character no stranger to controversy.

Cricketer Jonathan Trott opens up on his mental breakdown in Unguarded, written with the help of another perceptive craftsman of the journalistic trade in ESPN Cricinfo's George Dobell, while Greg Rutherford, the long-jumper whose gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 was somewhat overshadowed as the spotlight focussed on Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, reveals more of the personality viewers of Strictly Come Dancing warmed to last year in Unexpected, written with The Guardian’s Sean Ingle.

Athlete and mum Jo Pavey
Athlete and mum Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey’s book, which is ghosted by Sarah Edworthy, as well as being a warm human story of how an inspirational athlete won a European championship gold medal just 10 months after giving birth to her second child, offers much insight as to how it feels to be cheated out of glory by rivals using drugs, while racing driver Damon Hill – the only one of the six to write the book entirely by himself – takes the reader to some dark places as his explores his inner demons in Watching the Wheels.

The 15th Cross Sports Book Awards will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on the evening of May 24 and will be hosted by Sky Sports News host Mike Wedderburn and Test Match Special’s Alison Mitchell.

This year’s panel of judges for the prestigious best autobiography award include former England rugby star Brian Moore, Olympic rowing gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger, National Hunt champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Sky Sports La Liga pundit Guillem Balague, sports editor of the Mail on Sunday Alison Kervin and Middlesex and England cricketer Nick Compton.

David Willis Chairman of the Sports Book Awards, commented: “Once again we have a great group of nominees in what is always a hugely competitive category.”

Sponsored by major international manufacturer of quality writing instruments AT Cross, the Autobiography of the Year Award celebrates and promotes the best memoirs from the previous twelve months.

Nicola Shepherd, Marketing Director at AT Cross said: “The power of putting pen to paper is clearly demonstrated by this group of elite sportsmen and women and I look forward to celebrating the winner who has truly made their mark at the awards ceremony.”


More reading:

All the winners from the 2016 Cross Sports Book Awards

Cricket Society-MCC 2017 Book of the Year shortlist announced

How Barbarian Days won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016



Six on shortlist for the 2017 Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award

Books 'reflect passion and knowledge' - judges' chair Vic Marks

The shortlist of six for the 2017 Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award shortlist has been announced.

The list comprises books by cricket presenter Mark Nicholas and journalist Emma John, who both write about their love for and fascination with cricket, a couple of titles by ex-England players in Graeme Fowler and Alan Butcher, the latest from the brilliant Gideon Haigh and a portrait of Pakistan cricket by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller.

Chair of judges Vic Marks said: “There is some good writing here. All six books reflect passion for and knowledge about their subject matter.  I look forward to lively discussion at the judges’ final meeting; there is no doubt we will come up with a worthy winner."

The competition, run by the Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by MCC and Cricket Society Members, and is highly regarded by writers and publishers.

Last year’s winner was Simon Lister’s Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet. Dan Waddell won in 2015 with Field of Shadows: The English Cricket Tour of Nazi Germany 1937.

The six books on the shortlist are:

The Good Murunghu (Pitch Publishing), in which former England batsman Alan Butcher writes about his experiences as a coach amid the wreckage of cricket in Zimbabwe.

Graeme Fowler’s Absolutely Foxed (Simon & Schuster), in which the ex-England opener recalls his career as a player, talks about his more recent time as a university centre of excellence coach and also opens up about his struggle to live with depression.

Gideon Haigh’s Stroke of Genius (Simon & Schuster), a wonderful portrait of Victor Trumper, generally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, the title of which draws on the iconic image captured by the English cricketer abnd photographer George Beldam in 1905, which appears on the cover, of Trumper striding forward to drive.

Richard Heller and Peter Oborne’s White on Green: A Portrait of Pakistan Cricket (Simon & Schuster), a enjoyable collection of stories about Pakistan cricket and cricketers, notably for the depth of background research and some remarkable interviews.

Emma John’s Following On: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession and Terrible Cricket (Wisden), in which the author, now deputy editor of the Observer magazine, goes back to the fascination with cricket that helped launch her career.  A fine writer, Emma was the first woman to win an award for sports journalism.

Finally, Mark Nicholas’ A Beautiful Game, My love affair with cricket (Allen & Unwin), in which the former Hampshire captain and accomplished cricket broadcaster looks back on how the game has shaped his life.

Eleven books – nominated by either Cricket Society or MCC members (not publishers) – were accepted for the long list.

They were whittled down to six by a panel of judges independently chaired by writer, broadcaster and former England and Somerset cricketer Marks.  The other judges are David Kynaston and Stephen Fay for the MCC, and John Symons and Chris Lowe for the The Cricket Society.  Nigel Hancock, chairman of The Cricket Society, is the competition’s administrator.

The five books that did not make the cut were Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day (Pan Macmillan), Keith and Jennifer Booth’s Rebel with a Cause, The Life and Times of Jack Crawford (Chequered Flag), Jon Hotten’s The Meaning of Cricket (Yellow Jersey Press), Andrew Murtagh’s Test of Character (Pitch Publishing) and Jonathan Trott's Unguarded: My Autobiography (Sphere Little, Brown), written with George Dobell.

The £3,000 prize for the winner, and certificates for all the shortlisted books, will be presented at an awards evening in the Long Room at Lord’s on Wednesday April 19 in front of an audience of 200 people, which will comprise members of the Cricket Society and MCC, the shortlisted authors and publishers, as well as some of today’s finest cricket writers and journalists.

The Cricket Society – www.cricketsociety.com and Twitter @CricketSociety – encourages a love of cricket through playing, watching, reading and listening.  It supports young cricketers, makes annual awards, holds regular meetings, publishes an acclaimed Journal and Bulletin and has its own cricket team.

MCC is the custodian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, an innovative independent voice in world cricket, and a passionate promoter of the game.  It is also the world’s most active cricket-playing club and the owner of Lord’s – the Home of Cricket.