2011 British Sports Book Awards



The shortlists have been announced for the ninth British Sports Book Awards, organised by the National Sporting Club. The winners will be named at a ceremony at The Savoy Hotel on 9th May.
The number of categories rises to 10 this year with the introduction of ‘best racing book’ and ‘best sports book retailer’ in addition to best biography and autobiography, best football, cricket and rugby books, best illustrated title, best new writer and best publicity campaign.

After the awards are made, the winners in each category will be entered into a public vote to find the best overall sports book of the year -- a campaign that will be supported by booksellers throughout the country in the run up to Father's Day.

Today’s spotlight is on the Best New Writer award, for which the candidates are:

On The Road, by Daniel Harris (Speakeasy Books)
Sailing the Dream, by Mike Perham (Bantam Press)
Bounce, by Matthew Syed (Fourth Estate)
Overdrive, by Clyde Brolin (Vatersay Books)
Animals!, by Neil Clack (Pitch Publishing)
The Fixer, by Steve Bunce (Mainstream)


On the Road

Written by a former City lawyer with an obvious talent for writing, On The Road began life as a blog on ESPN’s Soccernet website. For all that the result may be honest and amusing, the idea of describing the day-to-day highs and lows of football fandom is hardly new but Harris sets himself apart by following the 2009-10 Manchester United season without setting foot in Old Trafford, having decided to mark his opposition to the running of the club by the American Glazer family by staying away from home matches. Though written in a fast, modern style, On The Road is nonetheless intelligent and well-informed and the author’s background in law and business give his thoughts on the running of his club a certain authority.

His stories would draw chuckles of recognition from many…and are told with wit, creativity and love. He also has a flair for description: the Reebok Stadium is ‘what a space station made by Ikea might look like‘.
-- Jack Pitt-Brooke, The Independent. Read more…

Sailing the Dream

Mike Perham had already been sailing for almost 10 years and had crossed the Atlantic alone when he decided to take his skills to the high seas and circumnavigate the globe single-handed. Yet Robin Knox-Johnston, who had been first to do it, non-stop, in 1968, still said it could be suicidal and the head of the Royal Yachting Association told him not to go. The reason was that, for all his experience, Perham was only 16.  He ignored their advice and in August 2009, at the age of just 17 years, 5 months and 11 days, became the youngest person to have sailed solo around the world. Sailing the Dream tells the story of an amazing voyage, a nine-month odyssey full of technical and navigational challenges that would stump sailors twice Mike's age, in which his yacht was repeatedly damaged by the force of nature but in which he battled on against 50-foot waves in 50-knot winds at speeds of up to 28 knots. When he completed his journey on August 27th 2009, he surpassed the record of Zac Sunderland, an older 17 year old American, set only six weeks earlier.

The telling of a remarkable adventure by a remarkable young man, Sailing The Dream will engage sailors and non sailors alike: judicious explanations of nautical terms never feel patronising; respect for the dangers encountered never descend into sensationalism; and Mike’s emotion for the wildlife and the beauty of the sea never feel forced. 
--- Little Ship Club. Read more…


What are the hidden factors which allow the most successful sports stars to rise above their competitors? Are they shared by virtuosos in other fields?  Award-winning Times sportswriter Matthew Syed, a former Commonwealth table-tennis champion, seeks to discover what lies behind world-beating achievement in sport and other walks of life.  The answers - taking in the latest in neuroscience, psychology and economics - challenge conventional ideas about what it takes to become the best.  From the upbringing of Mozart to the mindset of Mohammed Ali - via the recruitment policies of Enron - Bounce weaves together stories, insights and statistics in a thought-provoking read. Along the way, Syed talks to a Hungarian father whose educational theories helped his daughters become three of the best chess players of all time and explains why one small street in Reading - his own - has produced more top table-tennis players than the rest of Britain put together.

Fresh, ground-breaking and tackling subjects with broad appeal, Bounce is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the year. He takes on the myth of the child prodigy, emphasizing that Mozart, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, and Susan Polgar, the first female grandmaster, all had live-in coaches in the form of supportive parents who put them through a ton of early practice…a compelling narrative.
-- Publishers’ Weekly. Read more…


Clyde Brolin draws on exclusive interviews with 100 of the world's quickest men - from Stirling Moss through to Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton - in a quest to discover what Ayrton Senna was getting at when he described having been through an “out-of-car experience” during a qualifying lap for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix.  Overdrive reveals the grand prix greats have all shared aspects of Senna's epiphany at their finest hours. Stars of other sports recognise the existence of a mystical 'Zone' but in motor racing only the masters tame it, almost bending time and space. Overdrive is the first book to look deep inside their crash helmets and tell the story of how they do it.

By the end…Brolin is still struggling to explain the phenomenon that fighter pilots call “breakout” (where they feel they’re sitting on the wing looking into the cockpit at themselves). But he has a good time trying.
--- Simon Briggs, The Daily Telegraph. Read more…


England v Argentina is a fixture with baggage, a clash of playing styles and cultural misunderstandings that has provided international football with some of its most controversial incidents -- Ramsey's ‘animals’ comment at Wembley in 1966, Maradona's Hand of God goal in Mexico in 1986, Beckham's infamous red card at France ‘98 and his redemptive penalty four years later in Japan.  Argentinian-based British journalist Neil Clack uncovers the story of how a once gentlemanly event has developed into one of the bitterest of grudge matches in world football.   With a chapter dedicated to each of the 15 internationals played between the two countries, the story is told through the eyes of the players who played in those matches, accompanied by extensive background research, tactical analysis and personal anecdotes.

Neil Clack's excellent history of the rivalry between two of the game's great nations… springs to life when he speaks to men who were involved in the games. 
-- Tom Green, When Saturday Comes. Read more…

The Fixer

To describe Leading boxing journalist and broadcaster Steve Bunce as a new writer is stretching it a bit but this is certainly a new venture for him: a novel. A fast-paced boxing thriller, The Fixer takes the reader into the murky secret world of deals, fights and fighters that lurks in the shadows of the glitz and glamour of top-level professional boxing, where men such as Ray Lester, Bunce’s lead character, operate. Ray Lester is ‘The Fixer‘, bringing boxers together and making fights happen. The story grants exclusive access to a realm where the fixer -- not the fighter -- is king. Generously described by Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror as ‘like a Raymond Chandler for the 21st century. A hard-boiled, two-fisted, wise-cracking novel…as a thriller writer, Bunce wipes the floor with Stieg Larsson.’

As a boxing writer of 25 years standing, [Bunce] is well aware of the legal constraints he is under in a notoriously litigious sport, and so has opted for fiction to allow him to paint a picture of boxing that a more straightforward piece of journalism would not allow.
-- Sports Journalists’ Association. Read more…

The contenders in the other categories, making up the 10, are:


Jochen Rindt, by David Tremayne (Haynes Publishing)
W.G.Grace Ate My Pedalo, by Tyers and Beach (Wisden/Bloomsbury)
Another Journey Through the Links, by David Worley (Aurum)
Manchester United 1878-2010, by Alex Murphy (Simon and Schuster)
Twickenham, by Neal Cobourne, Jim Drewett and Iain Spragg (RFU/ Vision Sports)
'61 The Spurs Double, by Doug Cheeseman, Martin Cloake and Adam Powley (Vision Sports)


McCoy, ed. Brough Scott (Racing Post Books; Liz Ampairee)
On Tour, by Bradley Wiggins (Orion; Jessica Gulliver)
The Phantom of the Open, by Scott Murray & Simon Farnaby (Yellow Jersey; Louise Rhind-Tutt)
It's All About the Bike, by Robert Penn (Particular Books; Mari Yamazaki)
Trautmann's Journey, by Catrine Clay (Yellow Jersey; Bethan Jones)



See the shortlists for Best Autobiography,  Best BiographyBest Football Book,  Best Cricket BookBest Rugby Book and Best Racing Book.


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