Murray and Ali battle it out for Sport Book of the Year

Murray and Ali battle it out for Sport Book of the Year

Judy Murray's memoir will battle it out with a biography on Muhammad Ali and Four Mums in a Boat for the £29,000 William Hill Sport Book of the Year.

The longlist revealed on Thursday (21st September) has the highest number of female authors in the running for the prize in its history, organisers said, with nine books authored or co-authors authored by women listed as finalists. However, the line-up is still by far dominated by male authors and co-authors – 18 in total.

Tennis star Andy Murray's mum Judy Murray has been longlisted for her memoir Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story (Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House), which will go head-to-head with a biography of late boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster).

Meanwhile HQ title Four Mums in a Boat, which tracks the story of four working mums from Yorkshire – Helen Butters, Niki Doeg, Frances Davies and Janette Benaddi – who took on the Atlantic to break a world record, rowing 3,000 miles for charity will go up against Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury) -a homage to the ‘swimming suffragettes’ who paved the way for the modern female swimmer.

Football titles in this year’s longlist include The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing) and Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager by Ian Herbert (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury). Cricket titles outnumber those on football this year, with Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine by Harry Pearson (Little, Brown) listed along with Feeling is the Thing that Happens in 1000th of a Second: A Season of Cricket Photographer Patrick Eager by Christian Ryan (riverrun, Quercus Books) and On Form by Mark Brearley (Little, Brown).

On rugby, When Lions Roared: The Lions, the All Blacks & the Legendary Tour of 1971 by Tom English and Peter Burns (Polaris Publishing) has made the cut, on cycling: Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath (cycling) (Rapha Editions, Bloomsbury) is down and on horse racing: Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Doubleday, Transworld) is also listed.

The remaining titles in the running are: Gambling for Life by Harry Findlay (Trinity Mirror Sport Media), Redemption: From Iron Bars to Iron Man by John McAvoy and Mark Turley (Pitch Publishing), The Talent Lab: The secrets of creating and sustaining success by Owen Slot (Ebury Press, Penguin Random House) and Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects).

Chairman of judges and co-founder of the award, Graham Sharpe, said submissions this year were of “an extremely high standard – excellent for the health of sports-writing”.

“In any competition decided by opinions, there will be those who feel dismayed and disappointed," he added. "I have now been through this process 29 times. It never gets any easier or more enjoyable, I'm afraid! Congratulations to those who made the cut, commiserations to those who missed it.”

As well as a £29,000 cash prize, this year’s winning author will receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, and a day at the races.

Judges for this year’s prize are 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.

The shortlist will be announced on 24th October 2017 and the winner will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Tuesday 28th November.