David Goldblatt’s study of the “changing face of English football and how it reflects the nation as a whole”, has been named the winner of the 27th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football (Viking) was described by the judges as “an exceptional winner”. It explores football's effect on urban identities and examines its role in progressive debates on class and racial and sexual equality. Goldblatt was presented with a £27,000 prize, a William Hill bet worth £2,500 and a day at the races.
Chairman of the 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.”
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 a cultural 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.”
The other books shortlisted for the award included A Man's World (Simon & Schuster) by previous winner Donald McRae, Speed Kings (Bantham Press) by Andy Bull, Fire in Babylon (Yellow Jersey) by Simon Lister, Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire (Bloomsbury) by Martin Fletcher and Living on the Volcano (Century) by Michael Calvin.
The judging panel included 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.
Goldblatt is a writer and broadcaster who has made sports documentaries for BBC Radio. His previous books include The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football (Penguin) and Futebol Nation (Penguin).
Last year Anna Krien became the second woman to win the award for her book Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport (Yellow Jersey Press).