20190507

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/

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20181127

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:



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20180608

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.

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20170615

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).



20170404

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



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20170304

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.

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20161124

William Finnegan's surfing tour de force Barbarian Days adds the Bookie Prize to his Pulitzer Prize

WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016


The winner is announced


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.

By William Finnegan (Corsair) £9.99

William Finnegan  (centre) shows off the 2016 William Hill  Sports Book of the Year Award, flanked by (left-to-right)  judges Graham Sharpe, Alyson Rudd, Hugh McIlvanney, Mark Lawson, John Inverdale and Clarke Carlisle.
William Finnegan  (centre) shows off the 2016 William Hill
 Sports Book of the Year Award, flanked by (left-to-right)
 judges Graham Sharpe, Alyson Rudd, Hugh McIlvanney,
Mark Lawson, John Inverdale and Clarke Carlisle.
Surfing memoir Barbarian Days, described as “compelling, elegiac and profound” by the chair of the judging panel, has won the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award for American author William Finnegan.

The book, which has already won a Pulitzer Prize for the veteran New Yorker magazine writer, tells the story of Finnegan life through the prism of his 50-year obsession with surfing, from his childhood days in California and Hawaii to the present day.

Barbarian Days beat a particularly strong field to land the £28,000 cash prize that goes with the award, which also comes with a leather-bound commemorative copy of the book, a £2,500 free bet with the sponsors and a day at the races.

Finnegan's work was chosen from a shortlist that judges' chair and co-founder of the award Graham Sharpe dubbed "a ‘Magnificent Seven’ of sporting books".

The list comprised Diana Nyad's long-distance swimming memoir Find a Way,  Rick Broadbent’s Endurance, a biography of Czech Olympic runner Emil Zátopek, Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge’s Chasing Shadows, an investigation into the life and death of cricketer and journalist Peter Roebuck, Oliver Kay’s Forever Young, a biography of "football’s lost genius" Adrian Doherty, Rory Smith’s Mister, a study of how English coaches managers taught the world how to play football, and Christopher McGrath’s Mr Darley's Arabian, a history of horse racing through the lives of 25 horses united by one bloodline.

But it was Barbarian Days that impressed the judges the most.  In some ways a controversial inclusion on the shortlist, in that there is no element of competition either with other surfers or the record books, it won them over for the sheer brilliance of Finnegan's prose and the sharpness of his insights as he pursues a compelling quest to find the finest surf on the planet.

Broadcaster John Inverdale, who presented Finnegan with the award at a ceremony at BAFTA in central London, said that the decision of the judges had been unanimous.

“People thought this was a genuinely extraordinary book, about life – about a certain kind of life. It’s a bit hedonistic. It’s a bit reckless. A lot of people will identify with it. A lot of people will envy it.

"If you read it with an open mind, you will realise what an amazing thing life is and having some kind of engagement and passion for sport enables you to live life to the full.”

Another judge, the journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson, endorsed Inverdale's words, although he admitted that some on the panel had needed to be convinced that surfing should be considered as a sport.

"Although the author himself acknowledges the scepticism of some about whether surfing is a sport, the judges felt that Finnegan's account of the physical and psychological drive to achieve athletic perfection make Barbarian Days a worthy winner of the award.

"The autobiographical detail and precision of the writing also make it rewarding to those who might think they would struggle to get on board with surfing as a subject."

Finnegan, who now lives in Manhattan yet still surfs regularly off Long Island, has been a staff writer at the New Yorker magazine for nearly 30 years, often travelling to conflict zones and his previous books reflect that.

William Finnegan enjoys his triumph at the awards ceremony at BAFTA in central London
William Finnegan enjoys his triumph at the awards
ceremony at BAFTA in central London
Two have been rooted in his experiences in South Africa in the days of apartheid, another is about conflict in Mozambique and his most recent, Cold New World, shines a light into the bleak lives of disadvantaged American teenagers growing up hopeless and desperate in their own country.

Veteran William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe, who co-founded the award with the late John Gaustad, said of the winning entry: “Compelling, elegiac and profound throughout, Barbarian Days offers a revelatory and often dramatic study of the elegant art of surfing. As we follow William Finnegan’s story we see not just the maturing of a boy into a man, but of a rebellious soul coming to terms with society on his own terms.

"We also see, as we so often do, how sport reflects politics, economics and an ever-shrinking world, as surfers fight to protect their hidden beaches and continue their search for new waves to master.

"It’s a widescreen, technicolour winner. With a Pulitzer Prize and now the Bookie Prize to its name, surely Hollywood cannot be far behind.”

In addition to Sharpe, Lawson and Inverdale, the judging panel for this year’s award consisted of former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association chair Clarke Carlisle, broadcaster Danny Kelly, doyen of sportswriters Hugh McIlvanney, and Times writer and author Alyson Rudd.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan

Buy from Amazon, Waterstones or WH Smith

Read reviews of all the shortlisted titles:


Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game, by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster), £18.99

Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life. Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses, by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan (Corsair)

Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck, by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant)

Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - Football's Lost Genius, by Oliver Kay (Quercus)

Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life, by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)

More reading:


And then there were seven - the full shortlist for the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year

William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016: the longlist in full

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20161123

The remarkable story of how long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad completed the Cuba-to-Florida epic challenge at the age of 64

WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016


On the Shortlist

Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life

By Diana Nyad (Knopf Publishing Group), £16.99

Review by Jon Culley

Diana Nyad, pictured earlier this year at a sports psychology conference in Phoenix
Diana Nyad, pictured earlier this year at a sports
psychology conference in Phoenix
This is the book that Hillary Clinton apparently said would remain by her side throughout her campaign to be President, as a source of inspiration.

Diana Nyad excelled at open water swimming. In 1975 she swam the entire 28 mile (45km) circumference of the island of Manhattan in a world record time and in 1978, on her 30th birthday, swam the 102 miles (164km) from the Bahamas to Florida.

This despite suffering abuse at the hands of both her stepfather and a swimming coach as an adolescent, and spending three months in hospital with a heart infection.

When she retired from competitive swimming, she pursued a successful career that combined journalism, broadcasting and motivational speaking among other things.

But all the time she was persistently nagged by the memory of something she had wanted to achieve but failed, which was to swim from Cuba to Florida Keys.

Strength of character


Among extreme distance swimmers, Cuba to Florida is like Mount Everest is to climbers, the ultimate challenge, a stretch of water possibly as intimidating as any on the planet, the point at which the Gulf of Mexico gives way to the Atlantic Ocean, prone to violent storms and unpredictable currents and home to shoals of deadly jellyfish and countless predatory sharks.

She had made an attempt in 1978, swimming inside a 20' by 40' shark cage, but had been forced to give up after 42 hours, having swum 76 miles (122km) but having been blown badly off course by winds so strong she was repeatedly slammed against the cage.

Nyad's friends will testify that they never expected one attempt would be enough, such is her strength of character and unwillingness to accept defeat.  Yet they would not have anticipated just how she would get back in the water and pull it off.

She did so on September 2, 2013, when she emerged on to the sands of Key West after swimming 111 miles from Havana in an epic feat of endurance and indefatigable will, completing the passage in 53 hours.

Descriptive powers


It was her fifth attempt, the final four taking place from 2011 onwards.  She was 64 years old.  Along the way, escorted by her support team, equipped with a protective suit to protect her from the horrific, paralysis-inducing jellyfish stings that had been her downfall in previous attempts - but with no shark cage - she sang to herself and regularly revisited the messages of her mantra, the one that had driven her not only in the water but in life.

A map detailing Nyad's five attempts to complete the epic swim from Cuba to Key West
A map detailing Nyad's five attempts to complete
the epic swim from Cuba to Key West
She made it part of the triumphant address she gave to the crowd that greeted her as she stepped out of the ocean at Key West.  "One," she said. "Never, ever give up.  Two: You're never too old to chase your dreams. Three: It looks a solitary sport, but it's a team."

Some critics have felt the book reveals a somewhat needy side to Nyad's personality, seeing in it a constant craving for self-justification.  Others, though, will find it an inspiration.

There is much about her life and the experiences that helped develop her personality.  Whether it is a personality that appeals is a matter for the individual but it is hard to imagine many readers will not be gripped by her descriptive powers as they are taken, almost stroke-by-stroke, through the perils of swimming in a hostile ocean, or will not appreciate the inner resources that sustained her through the long days and nights of training, enabling her to face down her fears and ultimately overcome the force of nature.

Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life, by Diana Nyad (Knopf Publishing Group), £16.99

Buy from AmazonWaterstones or WH Smith


The winner of the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, worth £28,000 to the successful author, will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday.  There will a poignancy about this year's award ceremony in that it will be the first since John Gaustad, the award's co-founder and proprietor of the much-missed Sportspages book shop in central London, passed away earlier this year.

Also shortlisted: Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game, by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster), £18.99

Also shortlisted: Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life. Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses, by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)

Also shortlisted: Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek, by Rick Broadbent (Wisden Sports Writing)

Also shortlisted: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan (Corsair)

Also shortlisted: Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck, by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant)

Also shortlisted: Oliver Kay's Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - lost genius of Manchester United's golden generation (Quercus)

And then there were seven - the full shortlist for the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year

William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016: the longlist in full

(Picture credits - Main picture of Diana Nyad by Gage Skidmore; Route may by Froggerlaura; via Wikimedia Commons)

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20161122

Giving the game away - how England's coaching missionaries taught the world how to beat us at football

WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016


On the Shortlist

Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game

By Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster), £18.99

Review by Jon Culley

Alan Rogers during his days as coach of the Iranian team Persepolis
Alan Rogers during his days as coach
of the Iranian team Persepolis
Big-name interviews sell newspapers, we are always told.  But how often does a star player tell you anything you did not already know? Football is a micro-managed business these days, with minders and media advisers never far away.

It is why Times journalist Rory Smith admits the stories he most enjoys writing are often the less obvious ones, with interview subjects who may seem obscure on the face of it but frequently come with a fascinating back story waiting to be told.

So when a friend drew his attention to a story in Southport's local paper about a belated honour for a war hero his curiosity was instantly piqued.

The war hero was Alan Rogers, who had as a teenager served as a gunner on a Royal Navy destroyer assigned to protect the Arctic convoys from marauding German warplanes and predatory u-boats as they shipped supplies to the Soviet Union.  In a footnote to his description of the perils he faced in that role it was mentioned that after he had done with serving his country he had been a football coach, not in Britain but in a long list of other countries around the world.  Smith immediately wanted to know more.


Better appreciated abroad



He arranged to meet Alan Rogers, by then almost 90, in his modest Southport flat and learned that he had never played professional football and could not get a job as a coach at home yet met with such appreciation abroad for his ability to teach the game that he found work from Iceland to the Philippines.  In the Iranian capital, Tehran, whose Persepolis team he coached to four championship titles, he is remembered with particular affection.

Talking to Rogers gave Smith the idea for this book, which takes its title from the quintessentially English term of address that was adopted across the world to describe a coach. From the most famous 'Misters', such as Charles Miller, Jimmy Hogan and George Raynor - who won the 1948 Olympics with Sweden and a decade later took the same country to the World Cup final - to those like Rogers, whom celebrity largely passed by, Smith tells the story of how the football teams who dominate the game today, at club and international level, owe so much to the Britons who spread the gospel of the game around the planet.

George Raynor coached the Swedish national team in two spells, reaching the World Cup final in 1958
George Raynor coached the Swedish national team in two
spells, reaching the World Cup final in 1958
The book does much to explain how these pioneers and missionaries not only taught the rest of the world how to play football but helped them become better players than our own.

Often, the Misters were not merely good teachers but innovators, too, with a chance to put forward ideas that were all too often rejected at home, where training tended to be about fitness and muscularity rather than ball skills, and change was considered unnecessary.

Inherent gifts


Nowadays we tend to look at the Brazilians and Argentinians, the Spaniards and the Dutch as if they possess inherent gifts to which our players simply cannot aspire.

Yet go back in history and it was Jack Greenwell, an amateur player from Crooks in County Durham, who laid the foundations for Barcelona's attacking philosophy.  And the Total Football with which the Netherlands came so close to conquering the world in the 1970s can be traced back to Vic Buckingham's time in charge of Ajax.  It is something of an irony that in today's Premier League only four teams have English coaches and only seven British.

Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game, by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster), £18.99

Buy from Amazon, Waterstones or WH Smith


The winner of the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, worth £28,000 to the successful author, will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday.  There will a poignancy about this year's award ceremony in that it will be the first since John Gaustad, the award's co-founder and proprietor of the much-missed Sportspages book shop in central London, passed away earlier this year.

Also shortlisted: Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life. Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses, by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)

Also shortlisted: Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek, by Rick Broadbent (Wisden Sports Writing)

Also shortlisted: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan (Corsair)

Also shortlisted: Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck, by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant)

Also shortlisted: Oliver Kay's Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - lost genius of Manchester United's golden generation (Quercus)

And then there were seven - the full shortlist for the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year

William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016: the longlist in full

Home

20161121

Will this fast-paced history of horse racing's greatest bloodline turn out to be the 'bookie prize' favourite?

WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016


On the Shortlist

Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses.

By Christopher McGrath (John Murray) £25.00

Review by Jon Culley

Chris McGrath's book covers 300 years of racing history
Chris McGrath's book covers
300 years of racing history
In the early part of the 18th century, when the landscape and politics of the Middle East was rather different from today, a gentleman merchant by the name of Thomas Darley, working for the Levant Company in Aleppo, acquired a horse.

It was a bay colt, taller than the average Arabian horse.  In a letter to his brother in 1703, Darley noted that it was strikingly handsome and "with an exceedingly elegant carriage". He bought it for his father, Richard, with plans to take it back to the family's country seat, Aldby Park, not far from the village of Stamford Bridge in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

In some accounts, it has been suggested that Darley came across the animal after reviving his interest in hunting and thereby coming into contact with Bedouin tribesmen but little is known about the precise circumstances in which he acquired it.  Hailed for its speed across the ground, it had been given the Arabic name "Ras el Fedowi" - "The Headstrong One".

What is known is that the deal would become arguably the most significant piece of horse trading that ever took place.

Powerful bloodline


Aldby Park in Yorkshire, the country estate that became home to Mr Darley's Arabian
Aldby Park in Yorkshire, the country estate that became
home to Mr Darley's Arabian
The colt was duly shipped to Yorkshire, spending the larger part of an arduous journey suspended in a kind of hammock in the hold of a merchant ship.  It was never raced but spent 14 years covering mares at Aldby Park, its genes introducing speed to the traditional strength of the English breeds, and in doing so created the most powerful bloodline in the history of thoroughbred horse racing.

All thoroughbreds, in fact, are descended from just three stallions, all imported to England at around the same time. Ras el Fedowi, who became known as the Darley Arabian, was one.  The others were the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerley Turk but the Darley line was so powerful that over time the influence of the other two has dwindled.

Today, according to author Chris McGrath, the lineage of an incredible 95 per cent of the participants in any thoroughbred race, anywhere in the world, "from Royal Ascot to the Melbourne Cup to the Kentucky Derby" will be descended from Mr Darley's Arabian.

It was from this starting point that McGrath, a fine writer who was for a number of years the horse racing correspondent of the Independent newspaper, decided to write a history of the sport with the lineage of the Darley Arabian as its central thread.

Frenetic pace

A simple idea, it is one that works admirably.  Beginning with Thomas Darley and Ras el Fedowi and ending with the brilliant Henry Cecil-trained Frankel, winner of the 2011 Two Thousand Guineas and a record nine consecutive Group 1 races, it tracks more than 300 years of horse racing, essentially through the careers of 25 horses but touching upon pretty much every champion in that time.

There is an enormous cast of human characters, too, from rogues to Royals (which some falling into both categories), from which McGrath draws some wonderfully engaging tales, all told at a frenetic pace that compels the reader to turn page after page with scarcely time to draw breath.

The champion racehorse Frankel in action at Doncaster
The champion racehorse Frankel in action at Doncaster
Thoroughly researched and clearly an enormous project, Mr Darley's Arabian perhaps suffers a little for containing perhaps such an enormity of detail and so many stories, taxing the brain's ability to take it all in, although far better to provide too much information than too little.

In any case, there is no law against reading a book twice, or many more times.  And one of the joys of a book with such a broad scope is that a second exploration of its pages often finds previously overlooked gems nuggets that make it an even more fulfilling experience.

Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses, by Christopher McGrath (John Murray) £25.00

Buy from Amazon, Waterstones or WH Smith

The winner of the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, worth £28,000 to the successful author, will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday.  There will a poignancy about this year's award ceremony in that it will be the first since John Gaustad, the award's co-founder and proprietor of the much-missed Sportspages book shop in central London, passed away earlier this year.


Also shortlisted: Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek, by Rick Broadbent (Wisden Sports Writing)

Also shortlisted: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan (Corsair)

Also shortlisted: Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck, by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant)

Also shortlisted: Oliver Kay's Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - lost genius of Manchester United's golden generation (Quercus)

And then there were seven - the full shortlist for the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year

William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016: the longlist in full

(Picture credits: Aldby Park by Gordon Hatton; Frankel by RacingKel. Via Wikimedia Commons)

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