Sports Book of the Year 2014
Night Games by Anna Krien, a ‘balanced yet fearless’ investigation into the darkest recesses of sporting culture, has today (Thursday 27th November) been named the winner of the 26th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the richest and most prestigious literary sports writing prize in the world.
Described by the judges as a ‘painstaking, intelligent, but above all, open-minded examination of an immensely complicated area’, Night Games follows the controversial rape trial of an Aussie Rules player, focusing on what Krien describes as the ‘grey area’ of sexual consent.
Journalist and William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award judge Alyson Rudd, said:
“Night Games is not about English football but its relevance to the game is all too clear in the context of the conviction for rape of Ched Evans. Anna Krien seeks to understand why some sportsmen treat sex as a warped kind of sport in itself and women with little or no respect. Hopefully, if such men read her book they would be horrified at the repercussions of such behaviour.”
Krien was announced as the winner of the 2014 Award by judge and broadcaster John Inverdale, live on BBC Radio 5 Live, at a lunchtime ceremony at BAFTAin central London. A multiple award-winning journalist, born and living in Australia, Krien is only the second woman in the Award’s history to scoop what is fondly referred to as the ‘Bookie Prize’.
William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said:
“Despite the challenging nature of its subject matter, Anna Krien’s book is balanced yet fearless, and as compelling and involving as any previous winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Quite possibly, only a woman could have written it in as personal and perceptive a manner. Anna is the second woman to have won the Award, following Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit, and she had to beat one of the strongest, most varied line-ups in our 26 year history. It remains disappointing that on average, under ten per cent of the books submitted each year are written by females,and wehope that Anna's success will encourage many more women to write about sport.”
As well as a £26,000 cheque, Krien was awarded a William Hill bet worth £2,500, a leather hand-bound copy of her book, and an exclusive day at the races. She now joins an illustrious list of past winners, including Nick Hornby, Duncan Hamilton, Donald McRae and Paul Kimmage.
In taking the winning prize, Krien triumphed over an esteemed and varied shortlist, including two other titles looking at the macho culture in sport: Gareth Thomas’s autobiography, Proud, which documents the challenges he faced keeping his sexuality a secret while playing at the top of his profession; and Alone by Bill Jones, the biography of iconic figure skater John Curry, looking at the Olympian’s battle to change the muscular face of men’s skating through his sensual performances. Other titles on the shortlist included: Floodlights and Touchlines, a sweeping history of spectator sport, by academic Rob Steen; the autobiography of endurance runner Kilian Jornet, Run or Die; a sporting history of the capital, Played in London, by Simon Inglis; and Bobby Moore, a biography of the England footballing legend, by The Times chief sports writer Matt Dickinson.
The judging panel for this year’s Award consisted of: 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. Co-creator of the Award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop, John Gaustad, returned as chairman of the judging panel.