Controversy-dogged former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, retired Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas and Olympic gold-medallist Nicole Cooke are among those who have been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2014.
Tyson is longlisted for his "no-holds-barred" autobiography Undisputed Truth (HarperSport), written with Larry Sloman. Thomas, the highest-profile sportsman in the UK to come out as gay, has been longlisted for his autobiography Proud (Ebury Press), while Cooke, the first British cyclist to have been ranked world number one, is in the running for her autobiography (Simon & Schuster).
Bloomsbury and Yellow Jersey Press each have two titles on the longlist. Bloomsbury’s Floodlights and Touchlines: A History of Spectator Sport by Rob Steen and Alone, a biography of figure skater John Curry by Bill Jones, are up against Matt Dickinson’s Bobby Moore: The Man in Full and Anna Krien’s Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport from Yellow Jersey Press.
Other books that have made the longlist include: mountaineer and long distance runner Kilian Jornet’s memoir Run or Die (Viking); Stuck in a Moment: The Ballad of Paul Vaessen by Stewart Taylor (GCR Books Ltd); Oliver Horowitz’s An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course (Elliott & Thompson); and Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon by Elizabeth Wilson (Serpent’s Tail).
The remaining longlisted titles are: Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play by Simon Inglis (English Heritage); In Search of Duncan Ferguson: The Life and Crimes of a Footballing Enigma by Alan Pattullo (Mainstream Publishing); The Incredible Adventures of the Unstoppable Keeper by Lutz Pfannenstiel (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd) and Paul Rees’ The Three Degrees: The Men Who Changed British Football Forever (Constable).
Though the books on this year’s longlist cover eight different sports in total, titles about football dominate. Making up six of the 15-strong longlist, they include the biographies/autobiographies of Bobby Moore, Duncan Ferguson, Paul Vaessen and Lutz Pfannenstiel. Other titles include Anna Krien’s book following the rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer and Paul Rees’s account of a groundbreaking chapter in the history of British football, looking at West Bromwich Albion’s decision to field three black players in the late 1970s.
William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe, said: “There is something for everyone on this year’s longlist; from the inspirational, surprising and sometimes troubling stories behind some of our best-known sporting stars, to masterful social history and the more unusual subjects of ultra-running and golf-caddying. This diverse range of topics is testament to the fact that sports-writing is in rude health.”
He added: “I am also very pleased to see that three of the 15 longlisted titles are written by women – a first for a William Hill longlist – though I’d like to see an even greater share of voice for female writers in the future”.
The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £25,000 cash prize, the winning author will receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races.
The judging panel for this year’s award consists of: 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 columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the Award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.
The shortlist will be announced on 24th October. The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday 27th November.
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