WHSBOTY 2018 shortlist announcement

Seven-strong shortlist for world’s richest and longest-running prize for sports writing revealed

“Magnificent seven bring a depth of insight and fresh perspective to areas of sport and sporting history so often misunderstood, misinterpreted, underestimated or overlooked in the headline-led, here today, gone tomorrow media culture.”Graham Sharpe, Chair of Judges

Today, 25th October 2018, the shortlisted books in the running for the 30th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award are announced. The seven-strong shortlist delves into the worlds of boxing, darts, football, golf, rugby, swimming and the Olympic Games, and counts amongst its authors one historian, one gonzo journalist and two investigative journalists, two former youth prodigies, one rugby coach and two world-renowned sportsmen.

The turbulent lives of golfer Tiger Woods and boxer Eamonn Magee are the subjects of two shortlisted biographies. A timely release as he re-enters the world stage, Tiger Woods (Simon & Schuster) is the first major biography of the champion golfer and is based on three years’ extensive research by investigative journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian into Woods’ rise and fall. Paul Gibson’s The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee (Mercier Press), on the other hand, explores the highs and lows of one of Ireland’s most gifted fighters, whose variety of vices fuelled his career while also jeopardising it.

They are joined by the biographies of two youth sporting prodigies, which reflect for the first time on the extraordinary circumstances which led two young sportsmen to make history: Paul Ferris describes the tough reality of being Newcastle United’s youngest-ever player, at 16, in The Boy on the Shed  (Hodder & Stoughton); Tom Gregory, in his debut A Boy in the Water (Particular Books), opens up for the first time about becoming the youngest person to swim the English Channel in 1988, aged just 11.

Another story of success against the odds is Ben Ryan’s Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), which tracks his wonderfully chaotic yet rewarding journey with the Fijian rugby sevens from underdogs to Olympic gold medallists in Rio in 2016.

Lastly, this is the first foray into sports writing for two authors on the shortlist: gonzo journalist King ADZ dives headfirst into the tempestuous world of darts in Fear and Loathing on the Oche: A Gonzo Journey Through the World of Championship Darts (Yellow Jersey), whilst historian Oliver Hilmes tackles the controversial ‘Nazi Olympics’ in German bestseller Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August (The Bodley Head), showing the 1936 Games through the eyes of a cast of characters from athletes to Nazi leaders, writers to jazz musicians.

The shortlist in full (alphabetically by author’s surname):

  1. Fear and Loathing on the Oche: A Gonzo Journey Through the World of Championship Darts by King ADZ (Yellow Jersey)
  2. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)
  3. The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris (Hodder & Stoughton)
  4. The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee by Paul D. Gibson (Mercier Press)
  5. A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory (Particular Books)
  6. Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes (The Bodley Head)
  7. Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

 

Graham Sharpe, Chairman of Judges and co-founder of the Award, said:

“This has proved to be one of the most competitive renewals in the lengthy history of the Award, with 17 worthy titles vying for a place on the shortlist. We believe the resulting magnificent seven set an extraordinarily high standard, bringing a depth of insight and fresh perspective to areas of sport and sporting history so often misunderstood, misinterpreted, underestimated or overlooked in the headline-led, here today, gone tomorrow media culture.  We believe readers will not only enjoy but also learn from these game-changing books as we have. 

“At 30 years old, we’re in the unique position to look back over three decades of publishing and to see how some things have changed dramatically, and others have not - the notably small number of female authors being published in this field, for instance, across a range of sports. Whilst the breadth and scope of sports writing has undoubtedly improved, and its reception and recognition by the literary world is much changed, there are still some areas where there is significant work to be done.”

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, first awarded in 1989 to True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson, is the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £30,000 cheque, this year’s winning author will receive a free £2,000 William Hill bet, 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; journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson; multi award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney who has been a staunch member of the judging panel since day one; and The Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chair of Judges is Graham Sharpe, co-creator of the Award alongside John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages bookshop, who passed away in 2016.

The 30th winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Tuesday 27th November 2018.

* In the event that there is more than one winning author, the prize money and William Hill bet will be shared.

 

-ENDS-

 

For further information, please contact Graham Sharpe on 07803 233702, gsharpe.pressoffice@virgin.net or Joe Crilly on 07850 518164,  jcrilly@williamhill.co.uk

 

 

2018 SHORTLIST

 

  1. Fear and Loathing on the Oche: A Gonzo Journey Through the World of Championship Darts by King ADZ

(Yellow Jersey)

Anyone who has ever seen the PDC World Darts Championships knows that darts is no ordinary sport. Where else would you find world-class superstars, in the midst of a championship match, cultivating tomorrow’s banging hangover? Or two organisations with a bitter historical rivalry taking potshots at each other in a bid to secure players? Not to mention the sport’s legendary, fancy-dressed fans. King ADZ dives headfirst into this tempestuous world, meeting former legends, future stars, dominant Internationals, the owners, the referees and, of course, the fans. Darts may be a simple game to many, but to most it’s absolute mayhem.

 

King ADZ is the author of eight books, published by Thames & Hudson and HarperCollins. All his books to date have been concerned with youth-culture, sub-culture and street art. He has been creative consultant for numerous global brands including Adidas, Vice, Levis, Diesel, Smirnoff and Guinness. His latest feature documentary, The Iconoclast – profiling the notorious international art smuggler, Michel Van Rijn – has secured cinema distribution in the UK and US. He lives in London, England.

 

  1. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)

In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, a transcendent star of almost unfathomable fame and fortune living what appeared to be the perfect life. Then it all came crashing down. Based on three years’ extensive research, acclaimed investigative journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian deliver the first major biography of Tiger Woods. Sweeping in scope, it’s packed with ground-breaking, behind-the-scenes details of the rise and epic fall of a global icon, and it answers the question that has mystified sports fans for nearly a decade: who is Tiger Woods?

 

Jeff Benedict is a New York Times bestselling author, a special features writer for Sports Illustrated, and a television and film producer. He has also written for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and his stories have been the basis for segments on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, CNN and the Discovery Channel among others. He lives in Lyme, Connecticut, USA.

 

Armen Keteyian is a CBS News correspondent and an 11-time Emmy Award winner, widely regarded as one of the finest investigative journalists in the United States. A former writer-reporter at Sports Illustrated, he is also the author or co-author of 10 previous books. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, and San Clemente, California, USA.

 

  1. The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris (Hodder & Stoughton)

At 16, Paul Ferris became Newcastle United's youngest-ever first-teamer. Coming from Northern Ireland and being a skilful winger, he was inevitably hailed as 'the new George Best'. But the story of his time in the game, particularly as a young player, is one of insecurity, injuries, uncertainty, fear and, ultimately, a failure to fulfil his hopes and dreams. Yet this autobiography is much more than a tale of the vagaries of sporting fortune. Written with brutal candour, dark humour and consummate style, The Boy on the Shed is a riveting and moving account of a life less ordinary.

 

Paul Ferris was a teenage prodigy, becoming Newcastle United's youngest-ever player in 1982, only for injury to put an end to his career as a footballer. He later returned to the club as a physiotherapist before earning a Master's degree and beginning a successful quest to qualify as a barrister. But the lure of football was always strong and he went back for a third spell at Newcastle, as Head of the Medical Department, again working closely with a host of big-name players and managers. Paul also became a novelist and now runs a successful health and fitness business. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

 

  1. The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee by Paul D. Gibson (Mercier Press)

Eamonn Magee is widely regarded as one of the most gifted fighters to ever emerge from the Republic of Ireland. Yet, despite becoming a world champion in 2003, drink, drugs, gambling, depression and brushes with the law all took Eamonn away from his craft. Then there was the violence: a throat slashed, an IRA bullet in the calf, a savage, leg-shattering beating, and the brutal murder of his son. The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee is an intimate telling of a barely believable life story, filled with heartache and laughter, violence and love, unthinkable lows and fleeting, glorious highs.

 

Paul D. Gibson is a former journalist whose work has appeared regularly in the Guardian, on the BBC and Boxing Monthly, amongst many others. His first book, an autobiography of the UFC fighter Dan Hardy, was released in March 2017. Now fully immersed in the professional boxing world, Gibson's current projects include works on Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

 

  1. A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory (Particular Books)

On 6 September 1988, aged 11, Tom Gregory became – and will forever remain – officially the youngest person to swim the English Channel, mentored and encouraged by an extraordinary local coach. Tom’s full story has never been told, until now. Written with rare charm, enriched by a vividly-remembered, child’s-eye view of the world, Tom’s story is an inspirational tale of love, courage and opportunity which leaves a lingering question in the mind about the constraints of modern childhood: is there something in this tale that we have lost?

 

Tom Gregory holds the record of being the youngest person to swim the English Channel. Following a career in the army and investment banking, he now works as a Director for accountancy firm Deloitte. A Boy in the Water is his first book. He lives in Godalming, Surrey, England.

 

  1. Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes (The Bodley Head)

Berlin 1936 is set over 16 days in August 1936, when the Olympic Games were staged by the Nazis. With a chapter on each day, the book chronicles the games through the eyes of different characters from Nazi leaders and foreign diplomats to athletes, journalists, writers, socialites, nightclub owners and jazz musicians. While the events in the Olympic Stadium remain in the forefront – from Jesse Owens’ triumph to the scandal when an American tourist broke through security to kiss Hitler – Hilmes also goes behind the scenes and into the lives of ordinary Berliners during this unique time in history.

 

Oliver Hilmes studied history, politics and psychology in Paris, Marburg and Potsdam, and holds a doctorate in 20th Century history. His books include Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler, Cosima Wagner: The Lady of Bayreuth and Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar. Berlin 1936 was a Top 10 bestseller on publication in Germany. He lives in Berlin, Germany.

 

  1. Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

In 2013, Ben Ryan was asked to coach Fiji's rugby sevens team, with the aim of securing the nation's first-ever Olympic medal. He had never been to Fiji, and there had been no discussion of contracts or salary. However, he knew that no-one played rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands. He also knew that no other rugby nation has so little money, resources or basic equipment or such a long history of losing its gifted players to richer nations. So, he said yes and set in motion an extraordinary journey that culminated with Olympic gold in Rio 2016.

 

Ben Ryan is one of the most successful rugby coaches in the history of the game. He was Coach of England's sevens team from 2006-2013, before coaching Fiji’s rugby sevens. In addition to being recognised as the best male team performance at the 2016 Olympics by the International Olympic Committee, Ryan also took Fiji to two Sevens World Series titles. After the Fiji’s triumph in Brazil, Ryan was awarded the nation's highest order: the Companion of the Order of Fiji. He is now a consultant to various leading sports organisations and companies around the world. He lives in London.

 

Notes to Editors

 

  • This year’s prize was open to any full-length book, providing the subject was predominantly sporting, published for the first time in the UK between 13 October 2017 to 12 October 2018. Shortlisted authors will receive £3,000 cash, a leather-bound copy of their book, and a free £1,000 bet.
  • The winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2018 will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Tuesday 27th
  • The 17 titles on the longlist of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2018 were:
  1. Fear and Loathing on the Oche by King Adz (Yellow Jersey, Penguin Random House)
  2. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button (Blink, Bonnier Books)
  4. State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin (Century, Penguin Random House)
  5. This Girl Ran: Tales of a Party Girl Turned Triathlete by Helen Croydon (Summersdale Publishers)
  6. The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris (Hodder & Stoughton)
  7. The Lost Soul of Eamon Magee by Paul D. Gibson (Mercier Press)
  8. You’ll Never Walk by Andy Grant (deCoubertin Books)
  9. A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory (Particular Books, Penguin Random House)
  10. The Card: Every Match, Every Mile by Steve Hill (Ockley Books)
  11. Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes (The Bodley Head, Penguin Random House)
  12. Chasing Points: A Season on the Pro Tennis Circuit by Gregory Howe (Pitch Publishing)
  13. The Test by Nathan Leamon (Constable, Little Brown)
  14. The Mountains Are Calling: Running in the High Places of Scotland by Jonny Muir (Sandstone Press)
  15. Bump, Bike & Baby: Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing by Moire O’Sullivan (Sandstone Press)
  16. Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, The Orion Publishing Group)
  17. Heads Up: My Life Story by Alan Smith (Constable, Little, Brown)

 

  • Previous winners of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award:

2017 – Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath

2016 – Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

2015 – The Game of Our Lives by David Goldblatt

2014 – Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport by Anna Krien

2013 – Doped: The Real Life Story of the 1960s Racehorse Doping Gang by Jamie Reid

2012 – The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

2011 – A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng

2010 – Beware of the Dog: Rugby’s Hardman Reveals All by Brian Moore

2009 – Harold Larwood: The Authorized Biography of the World’s Fastest Bowler by Duncan Hamilton

2008 – Coming Back to Me: The Autobiography by Marcus Trescothick

2007 – Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton

2006 – Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward

2005 – My Father and Other Working-Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach

2004 – Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Controversy by Peter Oborne

2003 – Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football by Tom Bower

2002 – In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens by Donald McRae

2001 – Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse by Laura Hillenbrand

2000 – It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong

1999 – A Social History of English Cricket by Derek Birley

1998 – Angry White Pyjamas: An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police by Robert Twigger

1997 – A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life by Simon Hughes

1996 – Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae

1995 – A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour by John Feinstein

1994 – Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper

1993 – Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution by Stephen Jones

1992 – Fever Pitch; A Fan’s Life by Nick Hornby

1991 – Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser

1990 – Rough Ride: An Insight into Pro Cycling by Paul Kimmage

1989 – True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson