Bloomsbury has scored twice on the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award shortlist, vying against fellow indies Biteback Publishing and Axis Projects, as well as Simon & Schuster and Transworld.
Bloomsbury is featured on the seven-strong shortlist for Ian Herbert’s Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager and Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth, a “personal watery memoir” and tribute to the ‘swimming suffragettes’ who fought for women to have equal rights and access to swim.
Also in the running for the £29,000 prize is Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (S&S), which included 500 interviews about the boxing giant, and goes head-to-head with Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath (Rapha Editions) which explores the personal and professional lives of the cycling champion.
For the first time, a collection of essays is shortlisted for the award in Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects), which uncovers the secrets of Bradford Park Avenue football ground. David Bolchover’s The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory (Biteback Publishing) tells the story of Béla Guttmann, a Holocaust survivor who escaped death to become one of the world’s first superstar football coaches, leading Benfica to European Cup glory.
Ami Rao and Declan Murphy’s debut book, Centaur, published by Transworld imprint Doubleday, recounts the recovery that Irish jockey Murphy made from a terrible fall, leading him to defy medical prognoses 18 months later when he saddled up for one more race and won.
The judging panel includes journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson, retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association Clarke Carlisle, broadcaster and writer John Inverdale, broadcaster Danny Kelly, award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney and the Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd as well as chair of judges is Graham Sharpe.
Sharpe described the shortlisting process this year as a “mind-scrambling task” and praised the inventiveness of the shortlisted titles.
He said: “Never have we created a list including a dead-man walking, let alone riding; never had we even heard of a ‘waterbiography’, let alone a tide-turning tale of swimming emancipation. Football archaeology ever featuring as the theme would have been at least a 50/1 shot.”
The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on 28th November. As well as a £29,000 cheque (up from £28,000 last year), the winning author will receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, and a day at the races
Last year, surfing memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by journalist William Finnegan (Corsair) scooped the award for its "account of the physical and psychological drive to achieve athletic perfection".
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