On receiving the award at a ceremony at BAFTA in central London, Goldblatt said: “In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson: sports writing, bloody hell.”
Goldblatt’s The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football took the £27,000 prize ahead of a strong field from which twice past winner Donald McRae's A Man's World and Andy Bull's Speed Kings were both highly commended.
The Game of Our Lives examines how football affects urban identities from the biggest cities to the smallest towns, how a successful team can spark economic regeneration and describes how a sport that seemed to reflect urban decline only a few decades ago is now an economic phenomenon that has boomed even in times of wider recession.
Chairman of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year judging panel, John Gaustad, predicted that The Game of Our Lives would become "required reading for anyone studying the history of late 20th and early 21st Century Britain.”
“This is a serious, insightful yet compellingly readable book on a subject that affects the lives of everyone in the country, be they football fans or not," he said. "Goldblatt looks at football through the prism of its economic, cultural and reputational effect on the UK, and pulls no punches in his conclusions."
Goldblatt’s previous books include the acclaimed The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football and Futeball Nation, a footballing history of Brazil.
In taking the prize, Goldblatt prevailed over a powerful and varied shortlist, including a potential third win from Donald McRae for his biography of boxing legend Emile Griffith, A Man’s World. The shortlist also included in Andy Bull's Speed Kings the first book on bobsleigh to be submitted for the prize.
|David Goldbatt proudly shows off his trophy|
Also among a six-strong shortlist were Simon Lister’s study of the 1974 West Indies cricket team, Fire in Babylon, Martin Fletcher’s deeply moving Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire and Michael Calvin’s investigation into the secrets of surviving the brutal and unpredictable world of the football manager, Living on the Volcano.
William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said of The Game of our Lives: "It is an exceptional winner – it has to be, up against this incredible shortlist.”
As well as a £27,000 cheque, Goldblatt was awarded a William Hill bet worth £2,500 and an exclusive day at the races.
Making up judging panel alongside Sportspages bookshop founder Gaustad were retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Clarke Carlisle; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd.
The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt is published by Viking.
Goldblatt is a sports writer, broadcaster and sociologist. His book The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football was described as the "seminal football history" by Simon Kuper.
He has written for The Guardian, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times and The Independent on Sunday, as well as magazines New Statesman, New Left Review and Prospect. Born in Watford, he currently lives in Bristol.
The Game of Our Lives is also available from Waterstones and WHSmith
William Hill Sports Book of the Year shortlist announced
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