Corporate By William Hill PLC

'Engage' wines the Irish Sports Book of the Year for 2011

“Engage – The Fall & Rise of Matt Hampson” by Paul Kimmage has won this year’s Irish Sports Book of the Year. Irish sports writer Kimmage is the first to win both the Irish and International award, which he won for A Rough Ride in 1990. “Engage” won the award ahead of runners-up “Life, Death and Hurling” by Michael Duignan and “One Hell of a Ride” by Paul Carberry.

The winning book focuses on the life of former English rugby international Matt Hampson who was paralysed from the neck down after a scrum collapsed during an England U-21 training session in 2005, the worst injury ever incurred by an English international rugby player. The book details Hampson’s promising career alongside teammates Jonny Wilkinson and James Haskell through his rehabilitation and into his new life raising money and helping spinal injury victims along with his hope to coach England one day.

Author of the book, Paul Kimmage, said; "The writing of 'Engage' pushed me to the brink of insanity but the response has been fantastic and I'm thrilled to have won the Irish Sports book of the Year award. I'm thrilled for myself, obviously, but mostly for my friend, Matt Hampson, whose guts and courage and unique sense of fun, inspires me every day. Over the last few weeks, we've had tons of newsprint devoted to the tragedy of sport stars who choose death but almost nothing devoted to those like Matt who choose life...Funny old game. I would like to pay tribute to the other shortlisted authors for their excellent work and to thank the judges and the sponsors, William Hill, for continuing to support this important award. Some great books have won it in the past and I am honoured to be in their company."

Matt Hampson, on whom Kimmage’s book is based, said; “It's a great honour to win the Irish sports book of the year award . Engage is not just my story it is also my families, close friends and other people who have been spinally injured. Paul and I would like to dedicate this award to the late Stuart Mangan an inspirational friend of mine who I'm sure as a proud Irishman would have been delighted by this achievement.”

Tony Kenny, Head of International PR for William Hill said; “The Irish Sports Book of the Year was established to reward the best in Irish sports writing and there is no doubt that Paul Kimmage is one of Ireland’s finest. Not only is Paul an excellent writer and story teller, he also connected perfectly with a story of true human triumph in the book. Matt Hampson’s story is an inspiration to everyone who has read it and without Paul’s unique skill this story may not have touched as many people as it will over the coming months and years.”

“Engage – The Fall & Rise of Matt Hampson” is the sixth winner of the Irish Sports Book of the Year. Previous winners of the award which began in 2006 include, Paul McGrath’s “Back from the Brink”, Dónal Óg Cusack’s “Come what May” and last year’s winner, “The Club” by Christy O’Connor. The award was selected by a Judging Panel of some of Ireland’s top sports commentators including Eamon Dunphy, George Hook, Matt Cooper, John Duggan, Ger Gilroy and Paul Dempsey. More information on the award can be found at