Sports Book Of The Year By William Hill PLC

State Of The Footballing Nation: The Game Of Our Lives Wins 27th William Hill Sports Book Of The Year Award

Judges praise book that places football as a “barometer of the country’s well-being alongside music, literature and film"

The Game of Our Lives, David Goldblatt’s study of the changing face of English football and how it reflects the nation as a whole, has today (Thursday 26th November) been named the winner of the 27th 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 “an exceptional winner”, The Game of Our Lives looks at how football affects urban identities from the largest metropolis to small-town backwaters and the economic regeneration a successful team can bring to an area, and examines its role in progressive debates on class and racial and sexual equality. Goldblatt also describes how a sport used as asymbol of urban decline only a few decades ago is now an economic powerhouse, an industry that has outperformed even the housing market as it has boomed during the recent recession.

Chairman of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year judging panel, John Gaustad, said:

“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. Goldblatt looks at football through the prism of its economic, cultural and reputational effect on the UK, and pulls no punches in his conclusions. The Game of Our Lives will become required reading for anyone studying the history of late 20th and early 21st Century Britain.”

Goldblatt was announced as the winner of the 2015 Award by judge and broadcaster John Inverdale at an afternoon ceremony at BAFTA in central London. A writer and broadcaster who has made sports documentaries for BBC Radio, Goldblatt’s previous books include the acclaimed The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football and Futeball Nation, a footballing history of Brazil.

William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said:

“Goldblatt expertly charts how football has changed, and the country with it, in recent years, and makes a convincing case that the sport is as much of acultural and economic barometer for England’s well-being as music, literature, film and television. 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. He now joins an illustrious list of past winners including Nick Hornby, Duncan Hamilton, Donald McRae and Paul Kimmage.

In taking the prize, Goldblatt overcame a powerful and varied shortlist, including a potential third winfrom Donald McRae for his acclaimed biography of boxing legend Emile Griffith, A Man’s World. The shortlist also included the first book on bobsledding to be submitted for the prize, Speed Kings by Guardian senior sports writer Andy Bull, and writer and BBC TV news producer Simon Lister’s study of the 1974 West Indies cricket team, Fire in Babylon. Making up the list were two other football-related titles: Martin Fletcher’s hugely affecting account of the Bradford City fire and its aftermath, 56, and the Independent on Sunday’s chief sports writer Michael Calvin’s investigation into the secrets of surviving the brutal and unpredictable world of the football manager, Living on the Volcano

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. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the Award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.

The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt is published by Viking.

For further information, please contact Graham Sharpe on gsharpe@williamhill.co.uk / 020 8918 3732 or 07803 233702

Notes to Editors

  1. This year’s prize was open to any full-length book, providing the subject was predominantly sporting, published for the first time in the UK between 29th September 2014 and 15th October 2015.
  2. Shortlisted authors will receive £3,000 cash, a leather-bound copy of their book, and a free £1,000 bet. Longlisted authors will receive a free £500 bet and a certificate.
  3. About the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2015:
    The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt (Viking) 

    In The Game of Our Lives, David Goldblatt takes a look at how, in many ways, British football reflects the changes and fortunes of society at large. He writes of how English football, once a dying working-class game that reflected the nations declining fortunes, became the richest, most popular form of entertainment in the country.

    David Goldblatt is the author of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football, the definitive historical account of the world’s game, and Futebol Nation, a footballing history of Brazil.  For a number of years he wrote a sports column in Prospect magazine and has made a number of documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. He lives in Bristol.
  4. The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2015 SHORTLIST: 
    Speed Kings by Andy Bull (Bantam Press)
    Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager by Michael Calvin (Century)
    Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire by Martin Fletcher (Bloomsbury)
    The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt (Viking)
    Fire in Babylon: How a West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet by Simon Lister (Yellow Jersey)
    A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith by Donald McRae (Simon & Schuster)
  5. The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2015 LONGLIST: 
    The Ugly Game: The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert (Simon & Schuster)
    Speed Kings by Andy Bull (Bantam Press)
    Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager by Michael Calvin (Century)
    The Trials of Oscar Pistorius: Chase Your Shadow by John Carlin (Atlantic Books)
    Kings of the Road: A Journey into the Heart of British Cycling by Robert Dineen (Aurum Press)
    A King in Hiding: How a Child Refugee Became a World Chess Champion by Fahim, Sophie Le Callennec, Xavier Parmentier and Barbara Mellor (translator) (Icon)
    Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire by Martin Fletcher (Bloomsbury)
    The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt (Viking)
    Runner: A Short Story About A Long Run by Lizzy Hawker (Aurum Press)
    Fire in Babylon by Simon Lister (Yellow Jersey)
    A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith by Donald McRae (Simon & Schuster)
    The Bolt Supremacy by Richard Moore (Yellow Jersey)
    My Fight/Your Fight: The Official Ronda Rousey Autobiography by Ronda Rousey and Maria Burns Ortiz (Century)
    Journeymen: The Other Side of the Boxing Business by Mark Turley (Pitch)
  6. PREVIOUS WINNERS of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award:  
    2014 – Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sportby Anna Krien
    2013 – Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960s Racehorse Doping Gang by Jamie Reid
    2012 – The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
    2011 – A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng
    2010 – Beware of the Dog: Rugby’s Hardman Reveals All by Brian Moore
    2009 – Harold LarwoodThe Authorized Biography of the World’s Fastest Bowler by Duncan Hamilton
    2008 – Coming Back to Me: The Autobiography by Marcus Trescothick
    2007 – Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton
    2006 – Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward
    2005 – My Father and Other Working-Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach
    2004 – Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Controversy by Peter Oborne
    2003 – Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football by Tom Bower
    2002 – In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens by Donald McRae
    2001 – Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse by Laura Hillenbrand
    2000 – It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong
    1999 – A Social History of English Cricket by Derek Birley
    1998 – Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police by Robert Twigger
    1997 – A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life by Simon Hughes
    1996 – Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae
    1995 – A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour by John Feinstein
    1994 – Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper
    1993 – Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution by Stephen Jones
    1992 – Fever Pitch; A Fan’s Life by Nick Hornby
    1991 – Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser
    1990 – Rough Ride: An Insight Into Pro Cycling by Paul Kimmage
    1989 – True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson