A story about a bobsledding team in the 1932 Winter Olympics, three football titles, one cricket and one boxing book compete for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
The shortlist features debut book Speed Kings by Andy Bull (Bantam Press) – which marks the first book about bobsledding every to feature in the William Hill awards shortlist. It tells the story of four unknown men who took up the new event of bobsledding and went on to win gold in the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
Donald McRae could be in for a record-breaking hat trick of William Hill award wins if his latest biography of US boxer Emile Griffith - Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith (Simon & Schuster) takes the £27,000 prize. McRae has previously won in 1996 for Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing in Black and White (S&S) and in 2002 for The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens (S&S).
The three football titles competing for the top prize are Michael Calvin’s Living on the Volcano (Century), which looks at what it means to be a football manager, Fifty- Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire by Martin Fletcher (Bloomsbury) which looks at the fire at Bradford City football club stadium fire in 1985, which killed 56 people, among them the author’s father, brother, uncle and grandfather, and David Goldblatt’s The Game of Our Lives (Viking), which is an in depth look at the modern English football world, how it became the huge business it is and how it reflects our wider society.
The last title on the shortlist is Simon Lister’s Fire in Babylon (Yellow Jersey), which explores how cricket, a sport traditionally associated with British Colonialism, became an icon of West Indian independence.
William Hill spokesman and co-founder of the award, Graham Sharpe, said: “Five brave writers are stepping into the ring with Donald McRae but the outcome is far from certain. These books represent non-fiction writing at its best, with truly exceptional writers casting light on stories of triumph and tragedy from the world of sport. Our judges have a tough job ahead of them.”
The judging panel for this year’s award consists of 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 winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday 27th November.