Announced: 24th October 2014 The shortlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the richest and longest-running prize for sports writing.
Celebrated sports figures feature highly on the diverse list and include Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas – the first professional sportsman to come out whilst still playing – for his autobiography, Proud, and a biography of iconic figure skater John Curry, Alone, written by documentary maker Bill Jones. Both document personal struggles to keep their sexuality a secret whilst maintaining their public sporting personas.
Joining Thomas and Jones on the prestigious list is a biography of footballing legend Bobby Moore by The Times chief sports correspondent, Matt Dickinson; Bobby Moore: The Man in Full explores the dark personal story behind the sporting success of the World Cup captain.
Also in the running for the top prize is Run or Die, the autobiography of Spanish endurance athlete and 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Kilian Jornet, which charts his journey from an 18-month-old who regularly hiked in the mountains for five hours at a time to becoming the fastest person to run up and down Mt Kilimanjaro. Australian author Anna Krien also makes the list with Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport, which takes the high-profile rape trial of a young Australian Rules player as the starting point for a wider examination of the darker recesses of sport.
The shortlist is completed by two histories of sport – Played in London and Floodlights and Touchlines. The former, by journalist Simon Inglis has already changed the landscape of London, as his research for the book has been credited with the Grade II listing of five sporting buildings. The latter, by sports journalist and university lecturer Rob Steen, explores spectator sports’ intrinsic place in culture via a thematic history of professional sport. Both Inglis and Steen – as well as Jones – have previously been shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
The William Hill Sports Book Award 2014 shortlist
The seven titles in the running to be crowned the winner of the £26,000 prize are as follows:
|Bobby Moore: The Man in Full||Matt Dickinson||(Yellow Jersey Press)||Football|
|Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play||Simon Inglis||(English Heritage)||Sport|
|Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry||Bill Jones||(Bloomsbury)||Ice Skating|
|Run or Die||Kilian Jornet||(Viking)||Running|
|Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport||Anna Krien||(Yellow Jersey Press)||Football|
|Floodlights and Touchlines: A History of Spectator Sport||Rob Steen||(Bloomsbury)||Sport|
|Proud: My Autobiography||Gareth Thomas and Michael Calvin||(Ebury Press)||Rugby|
The shortlist in detail
Bobby Moore: The Man in Full by Matt Dickinson (Yellow Jersey)
In this biography, Matt Dickinson traces the journey of an Essex boy who became the patron saint of English football, peeling away the layers of legend and looking at Moore’s life from all sides – in full.
Matt Dickinson is chief sports correspondent for The Times, where he has worked for 17 years, covering five World Cups. He has won numerous awards including Sports Journalist of the Year. He has previously written books with David Beckham and Gary Neville, but this is his first biography.
Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play by Simon Inglis (English Heritage)
Played in London charts the spaces, buildings, and sports that have shaped London’s cultural and urban landscape for over a millennium. Illustrated with original photographs and detailed maps, and based on over 10 years of in-depth research,Played in London explores the legacy of sport in one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Born and brought up in Birmingham, Simon Inglis went on to study History of Architecture at University College London. During his two decades of being a journalist, he has written a number of acclaimed books on football history and stadium architecture, includingThe Football Grounds of Britain, and acted as a consultant to Sport England and the British Council.Played in London is his latest book for the ‘Played in Britain’ series, following on from Played in Manchester, Engineering Archie, and A Load of Old Balls. Inglis also co-wrote Played in Birmingham and Great Lengths.
Run or Die by Kilian Jornet (Viking)
In Run or Die, Kilian Jornet shares his passion for the mountains and endurance running. He has run up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro faster than any other human being, and struck down world records in every challenge that has been proposed – all before the age of 25. Dominating ultra-marathons and races at altitude, Jornet gives an insight into his consuming desire to tackle tests that push him to the very brink.
Kilian Jornet was raised in the mountains of Eastern Spain and is a world champion ultra-runner and ski mountaineer. In 2013 he broke the world speed record to ascend and descend the 14,692-foot Matterhorn Mountain. It typically takes climbers around 12 hours – Jornet's time was 2 hours and 52 minutes. He was awarded the prestigious Adventurer of the Year 2014 accolade byNational Geographic magazine, in honour of his latest project to break speed records up and down the world's 7 tallest mountains. The 4-year project finishes with a running attempt up Everest in 2016.
Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport by Anna Krien (Yellow Jersey Press)
In Night Games, Anna Krien follows the rape trial of a young Australian Rules footballer, taking a balanced and fearless look at the dark side of sport culture – the world of Sam Newman, Ricky Nixon, Matty Johns and the Cronulla Sharks. Both a courtroom drama and a work of narrative journalism, this is a closely observed, controversial book about sex, consent and power.
Anna Krien’s first book,Into the Woods, won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award. Krien is also the author of the Quarterly EssayUs and Them: On the Importance of Animals, which won the 2012 Voiceless Writing Prize and was shortlisted for the John Button Prize and the Walkley Award for magazine feature writing. Her writing has been published in The Monthly, The Age, The Big Issue, The Best Australian Essays, The Best Australian Poems and The Best Australian Stories.
Floodlights and Touchlines: A History of Spectator Sport by Rob Steen (Bloomsbury)
Focusing on spectator sports and their accompanying issues, tracing their origins, evolution and impact, inside the lines and beyond the boundary, Floodlights and Touchlines offers a thematic history of professional sport and the ingredients that magnetise millions around the globe.
Rob Steen has written several books including David Gower: A Man Out of Time and Spring, Summer, Autumn (runner-up for the 1991 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award). He is a longstanding columnist forCricinfo and a senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton. He has also written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent, the FT, and the Melbourne Age.
Proud: My Autobiography by Gareth Thomas and Michael Calvin (Ebury Pess)
This is the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him; something that had the potential to cause upheaval not only in his own life, but the lives of his wife, family, friends and teammates. The only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of the lie he was living was on the pitch, playing the sport he loved. The deceit ended when Gareth became the world's most prominent athlete to come out as a gay man. His decision has strengthened strangers, and given him a fresh perspective.
Gareth Thomas is a retired Welsh rugby player, who played rugby union for Bridgend, Celtic Warriors, Toulouse and Cardiff Blues, winning 100 international caps for Wales and captaining the British and Irish Lions. He became the first openly gay professional rugby union player when he publicly announced his sexual orientation in 2009. Proud is his autobiography about this experience.
Michael Calvin has been awarded Sportswriter of the Year and has twice been named Sports Reporter of the Year. He is currently chief sports writer with the Independent on Sunday.