An autobiography by "one of football's most controversial figures", Joey Barton, has been longlisted for the 2016 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
On Monday, the former England and QPR player was suspended by his current club Rangers after a training ground disagreement last week and he is also being investigated over claims he gambled on Celtic's recent 7-0 defeat by Barcelona.
Joining Barton's memoir No Nonsense (Simon & Schuster) on the William Hill Sports Book longlist is 1996 Formula One World Champion Damon Hill's autobiography Watching the Wheels (Macmillan), in which he writes "movingly" about his father Graham Hill, who died before he could "see his son triumph in the sport he once ruled".
Paternal relationships can also be found at the heart of two other longlisted titles: in ‘How’s Your Dad?’ (Racing Post Books) in which Mick Channon Jnr tells of growing up in the shadow of a father who succeeded in not one sport, but two, and Dan Waddell offers an "affectionate portrait "of his father, the ‘voice of darts’ Sid Waddell, in We Had Some Laughs (Bantam Press).
Elsewhere writers dig into their subjects’ histories to tell their stories "as never before": Oliver Kay’s Forever Young (Quercus) is about “football’s lost genius”, Adrian Doherty, who died aged 26; Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge’s Chasing Shadows (Hardie Grant) investigates the life and death of controversial cricketer and commentator Peter Roebuck; and double William Hill winner Duncan Hamilton takes on one of Britain’s greatest Olympians, Eric Liddell, in For the Glory (Doubleday).
Continuing the Olympic theme, the Czech long-distance runner Emil Zátopek is the subject of not one but two books on the longlist: Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith (Yellow Jersey Press) and Endurance by Rick Broadbent (Wisden). This represents the first time two biographies about the same person have been in direct competition for this prize.
While the books on the 2016 longlist cover nine different sports in total, including debut appearances from the worlds of surfing and darts, it is once again titles about football – the subject of 2015 winner The Game of Our Lives by David Goldblatt (Penguin) – that dominate. As well as featuring in No Nonsense, ‘How’s Your Dad?’ and Forever Young, the game is also the subject of Football’s Coming Out by Neil Beasley (Floodlit Dreams), the author’s account of surviving and succeeding as a gay fan and footballer in an "often homophobic sport", and Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster), which looks at how English football managers helped take the sport around the world.
Also making the grade are two titles with business at their core: in Mr Darley’s Arabian (John Murray), Christopher McGrath looks at the history of horse-breeding by following the bloodline of 25 "exceptional" horses, while Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog (Simon & Schuster), tells the story of one of sport’s "most instantly recognisable" brands – Nike.
Completing this year’s 17-strong longlist are William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Barbarian Days (Corsair), which chronicles the journalist’s long love affair with surfing; Diana Nyad’s memoir Find a Way (Macmillan), culminating in her record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage, at the age of 64; Anna Kessell’s timely Eat Sweat Play (Macmillan), an examination of attitudes to women in sport today, in which she explores sporting taboos including body dysmorphia, periods, miscarriage, sex and the gender pay gap; and The Belt Boy by Kevin Lueshing (Austin Macauley Publishers), which charts the "hidden torment" behind the boxing champion’s rise to the top.
William Hill media relations director and co-founder of the award, Graham Sharpe, said: “I’ve heard it said that 2016 is shaping up to be one of sports’ most exciting years. I’d add to that – I think this year can claim to be one of sports writing’s greatest years: this longlist is truly exceptional. We received 140 entries – a record for the award – and it was tougher than ever to get down to this selection. It’s clear that the era of the macho facts and stats sports memoir is over and the evolution of sports writing continues; more than ever, this Award proves that sports writing is great writing – revelatory, compelling and important.”
As well as a £28,000 cash prize, this year’s winning author will receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, and a day at the races.
The judging panel for this year’s award consists of 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; journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and The Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chair of judges is Sharpe, co-creator of the award alongside John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages bookshop, who retired following the 2015 Award and passed away earlier this year.
The shortlist will be announced on 18th October and the winner will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday 24th November.
The longlist in full (alphabetically by author’s surname):
· Today We Die a Little: The Rise & Fall of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend by Richard Askwith (Yellow Jersey Press)
· No Nonsense: The Autobiography by Joey Barton, with Michael Calvin (Simon & Schuster)
· Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
· Football’s Coming Out: Life as a Gay Fan and Player by Neil Beasley with Seth Burkett (Floodlit Dreams)
· ‘How’s Your Dad?’: Embracing Failure in the Shadow of Success by Mick Channon Jr (Racing Post Books)
· Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
· For the Glory: The Life of Eric Liddell by Duncan Hamilton (Doubleday)
· Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography by Damon Hill, with Maurice Hamilton (Macmillan)
· Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
· Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel (Macmillan)
· Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight (Simon & Schuster)
· Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
· The Belt Boy by Kevin Lueshing and Mike Dunn (Austin Macauley Publishers)
· Mr Darley’s Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life – A History of Racing in 25 Horses by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)
· Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)
· Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster)
· We Had Some Laughs: My Dad, The Darts and Me by Dan Waddell (Bantam Press)
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- Hill and Barton up for Sports Autobiography of the Year
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