Hamilton and McRae go head to head in battle for sports literature's annual 'bookie prize'


Sportswriters Duncan Hamilton and Donald McRae are pitted head to head in a bid to make history by becoming the first to win the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year for a third time.  Both have made the longlist - just announced - for the 2012 award and a £24,000 cash prize.  

McRae, who won in 1996 with Dark Trade, his exploration of the shadier sides of professional boxing, and again in 2002 for In Black and White, his joint biography of iconic black athletes Joe Louis and Jesse Owens, is in the running as co-author of British Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton's autobiography Between The Lines. 

Hamilton, winner of the award in 2007 with Provided You Don't Kiss Me, his account of his day-to-day dealings with Brian Clough as a local newspaper reporter, and again two years later with his biography of Bodyline fast bowler Harold Larwood, has been nominated for The Footballer Who Could Fly, which charts the progress of post-war British football as well as exploring how a mutual love of the game provided a bond between father and son that might otherwise have not existed.

Other longlist titles include
  • Fibber in the Heat by comedian and actor Miles Jupp, one of the stars of political satire The Thick of It, who bluffed his way into the press corps during England’s Test series in India.
  • Jonny: My Autobiography, in which rugby star Jonny Wilkinson reveals how he overcame his own psychological barriers to reach the top in his sport.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For, the story of Simon Jordan, the life-long Crystal Palace fan who bought the club with his self-made millions, only to lose almost everything when it went into administration in 2010. 
  • That Near Death Thing, Rick Broadbent's journey to the heart of the extraordinarily dangerous Isle of Man TT motorcycle race through the story of four riders.
  • A Life Without Limits, the story of Chrissie Wellington, the triathlete from Norfolk who became four-times female world champion in the almost impossibly-demanding Ironman event, which combines a 2.4-mile swim with an 112-mile bike ride and a full 26.2 miles marathon run, back-to-back, without a break.

 The list in full comprises (click on the links for more information at amazon.co.uk)

  1. That Near Death Thing: Inside the Most Dangerous Race in the World, by Rick Broadbent (Orion)
  2. Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth, by Adharanand Finn (Faber)
  3. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run, by Matt Fitzgerald (Quercus)
  4. The Footballer Who Could Fly, by Duncan Hamilton (Century)
  5. The Secret Race - Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press)
  6. A Weight Off My Mind: My Autobiography, by Richard Hughes, with Lee Mottershead (Racing Post)
  7. Be Careful What You Wish For, by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey)
  8. Fibber in the Heat, by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press)
  9. The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final, by Richard Moore (Wisden Sports Writing)
  10. Between the Lines: My Autobiography, by Victoria Pendleton with Donald McRae (HarperSport)
  11. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton (Particular Books)
  12. A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey, by Chrissie Wellington, with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson)
  13. Jonny: My Autobiography, by Jonny Wilkinson, with Owen Slot (Headline)
  14. Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash, by James Willstrop (Rod Gilmour)

Graham Sharpe, William Hill spokesman and founder of the Award, said: “2012 was a memorable sporting year thanks to the Olympics and the Paralympics, the Ryder Cup and the US Open tennis to name but a few of the highlights, and it is a year which has also produced a strong crop of memorable sporting books.

"It has been difficult enough to narrow the contenders down to a manageable longlist of 14 titles, and with sports like squash, swimming and Ironman racing represented for the first time, this is the most diverse longlist we have yet seen.”

Now in its 24th year, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £24,000 cash prize, the winning author will receive a £2,000 William Hill bet, a specially-commissioned hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races.

The judging panel for this year’s award consists of broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; footballer and chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle, who joins the judging panel for the first time; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; plus columnist and author, Alyson Rudd.

Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.

The shortlist is scheduled to be announced on October 26. The winner will be announced at a lunchtime reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore, on Monday, November 26.

More reading...
A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke win 2011 William Hill Sports Book of Year Award


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