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.