Six of the best - the shortlisted contenders for Football Book of the Year


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1 -- A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke

Author: Ronald Reng
Published by: Yellow Jersey

One evening in November 2009, the German national goalkeeper, Robert Enke, parked his car near a level crossing in the German state of Lower Saxony and stepped in front of a 100mph train. He was 32. Writer Ronald Reng tells the story of a man who had also been his friend, revealing much about the fears that torment many at the highest level of sport, concealed often behind a veneer of false confidence. In heartfelt but never sentimental words, Reng describes the tragedy of a talented man cracking under the strain of personal loss and professional pressures. Winner: William Hill Sports Book of the Year, 2011.

2 -- Got, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures

Authors:  Derek Hammond & Gary Silke
Published by: Pitch Publishing

Football fans have always been collectors, filling sticker books with images of their favourite players or hoarding programmes as souvenirs of matches they have attended. As a result, there is a huge volume of football memorabilia to feed the game's appetite for nostalgia.  Authors Gary Silke and Derek Hammond assembled a huge collection of ephemera, mainly from the 60s, 70s and 80s, and wove around it a charming historical snapshot of what now seems like an innocent age, when football belonged to the people, rather than to television moguls, millionaires and oligarchs.

3 -- I'm Not Really Here: A Life of Two Halves

Author: Paul Lake
Published by: Century

Paul Lake might have been the finest player of his generation had a cruciate ligament injury not struck him down just as his career was about to blossom.  Captain of Manchester City at 21, he was tipped as a future captain of England, equally commanding in midfield or defence.  But his treatment programme was a disaster, marked by misdiagnoses, critical delays, false hopes, multiple operations and poor aftercare.   Lake retired in 1996.  Written with the help of his wife, Joanne, this is the poignant story of his slide into depression and despair and, upliftingly, of his recovery.

4 -- The Management: Scotland's Great Football Bosses

Authors: Michael Grant & Rob Robertson
Published by: Birlinn

Think great Scottish football managers and the names of Jock Stein, Walter Smith and Sir Alex Ferguson will be among those that come to mind. Not, probably, Charlie Miller, John Lawson, John Harley, William Maxwell, Willie Chalmers or John Madden. Yet these men were equally influential in their way, as missionaries and pioneers of the game, particularly in South America and Europe in particular. In Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Belgium, Sweden, even Italy, Scottish managers left their mark.  Extensively researched, this is their fascinating story.

5 -- The Smell of Football

Author: Mick Rathbone
Published by: Vision Sports Publishing

Mick Rathbone, one time Birmingham and Blackburn player, one time Head of Medicine at Everton, has seen football from different sides, first as a starstruck apprentice at his home town club, so undermined by self-doubt he found himself too petrified to pass the ball to his boyhood idol, later as a respected professional, briefly as a manager and then as a Premier League physio. This is a touching and funny memoir of a love-hate relationship with football spanning 35 years, recalled with the help of the sounds and smells and the characters that have left their lasting impressions and shaped his perceptions of the game.

6 -- There's a Golden Sky: How twenty years of the Premier League has changed football forever

Author: Ian Ridley
Published by: Bloomsbury

Two decades after he painted a portrait of football at perhaps its lowest ebb in Season in the Cold, football journalist and author Ian Ridley retraces the steps of that journey to take the temperature of England's national game after 20 years of the Premier League.  Mingling among the princes and the paupers of the game, from the multi-millionaires who run football and now play it too at the highest level to the amateurs and non-League clubs for whom the riches generated by television have had little or no effect, Ridley chronicles how the game has changed and asks whether it has really done so for the better.

Browse more football books at The Sports Bookshelf Shop

The British Sports Book Awards shortlists in full

Spotlight on the contenders for Racing Book of the Year
Shortlisted titles for Cricket Book of the Year

Coming soon:  The Sports Bookshelf's guide to the nominated titles in the Golf Book of the Year category.



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