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/