All the winners at the British Sports Book Awards 2014 - now vote for your favourite

The maverick tennis champion Jimmy Connors, rugby star Simon Halliday and established writers Michael Calvin, Brough Scott and James Astill were among the winners at the British Sports Book Awards 2014, along with new names Tim Lewis and Harriet Tuckey.  

Their successes were announced during an event held at Lord’s Cricket Ground and hosted by Test Match Special’s, Jonathan Agnew.

The Connors story, The Outsider, is the second tennis book to win in the biography section in the 12-year history of the awards, following Andre Agassi's autobiography Open in 2010.

Harriet Tuckey's Everest: The First Ascent, which won the judges' vote for the new Outstanding General Sports Writing category, is the first book from the world of mountaineering to be honoured. Tim Lewis was named New Writer of the Year for his story of the Rwanda national cycling team, Land of Second Chances.

All eight individual category winners will now be put to an online public vote to determine the overall British Sports Book of the Year, sponsored by The Times. Go to the official website,, to register your vote. The winner will be announced in June.

These were the category winners:

Football Book of the Year 

The Nowhere Men: The Unknown Story of Football's True Talent Spotters, by Mike Calvin (Century)

Fleet Street veteran Mike Calvin, who was shortlisted for the 2011 award with Family: Life, Death and Football after he spent a year effectively as an embedded correspondent with Millwall FC, is a deserved winner for Nowhere Men, based on an idea suggested to him by Millwall's chief scout, in which he spends 15 months on the road with members of the vast army of football talent scouts.

These are the men and women who devote their lives to discovering the next potential superstar, some standing on windswept touchlines, others taking their seats in swanky stadiums with the rich and famous, yet whose identities are known often only to each other and to football's inner circle. Calvin is a fly on the wall, privy to confidential conversations, closely guarded information and eyebrow-raising stories, while discovering the insecurities and fears and listening in on the grumbles and whinges of arguably the most important people in the game.

Biography/Autobiography of the Year

The Outsider: A Memoir, by Jimmy Connors (Bantam Press)

Jimmy Connors won few awards for popularity during his tennis career, having taken by storm a sport often seen as elitist in the United States, driven by the anger that took root in him the day he looked on in horror as an eight-year-old boy, watching his mother, grandmother and grandfather beaten up in a public park in crime-ridden East St Louis.

The trauma never left him and he never allowed it to, resisting any temptation to turn himself into a cosseted member of the tennis establishment, forming few friendships, forever remaining the outsider.  His mother encouraged him to believe it was him against the world and it was an attitude that served him well on course as he won his eight Grand Slam titles, cheered on by fans who took to him as an anti-hero.  It makes for a powerful story.

Cricket Book of the Year

The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India , by James Astill (Wisden Sports Writing)

Already the winner of the MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year and the Cricket Writers' Club Book of the Year, James Astill's book completes a memorable hat-trick.

Astill explores the growth of cricket in India, looking at the success of the Indian teams in international cricket and more recently the creation of the cash-rich Indian Premier League, the enormously hyped and hugely popular Twenty20 competition, and presents it as a symbol of the change in the nation itself.  As a journalist with a deep knowledge of politics and economics, and a cricket fanatic to boot, Astill draws on his knowledge of all three and has in effect written a history of contemporary India through cricket, explaining how the game is the glue that binds together the country's 1.2 billion people and at the same time is modern India in microcosm, dominated by politics, riddled with intrigue, beset by corruption, cynicism and vast inequalities, and driven by the desire for wealth and power.

New Writer of the Year

Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team, by Tim Lewis (Yellow Jersey)

Tim Lewis, a staff writer for the Guardian and Observer, tells a story about the unlikely development of a competitive cycling team in Rwanda and a project that reached fulfilment when Adrien Niyonshuti, who had seen many members of his family killed in the 1994 genocide in his native country, completed the course in the men's mountain bike race at the London Olympics in 2012, finishing in 39th place.

The book explores what happens when well-meaning people from advanced western nations attempt to impose their technology, their training techniques, and their values on people they little understand, with a cast that includes several people, for different reasons, who are pursuing second chances. Among them are the pioneering mountain bike designer, Tom Ritchey, and the one-time prominent Tour de France rider Jock Boyer, who pursued a western agenda, using hi-tech training methods, in trying to produce a team capable of competing in major road races around the world but came up against riders who wanted no more than to earn enough money from racing to buy a plot of land and build a house in order to support their family.

Horse Racing Book of the Year

Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius, by Brough Scott (Racing Post Books)

Shortlisted also for best biography, Brough Scott's brilliant portrait of the late Henry Cecil will stand for years to come as one of the finest horse racing books written, as befits the man who became known as the sport's greatest trainer. It is a shame that author and subject ultimately fell out over it, Cecil taking exception to aspects both of his own depiction in the book and what he described as the "needless focus on my private life."

Given that Cecil led a full and colourful life, especially in his younger days, was married three times and fought an incredibly courageous and long battle with cancer, a disease that claimed the life of his twin brother, it is hardly something that could be glossed over.  In any case, Scott handles the darker moments of Cecil's life with the utmost sensitivity, proving again that he is a writer of the highest calibre. Without them, the story would not stand scrutiny as a worthwhile biography.

Outstanding General Sports Writing

Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible, by Harriet Tuckey (Rider Books)

This new prize went to a remarkable book, which is ostensibly about mountaineering but has a sub-plot that sets it apart as something much more.  It begins in a thronged lecture hall at the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1993, at an event organised to celebrate the conquest of Mount Everest, held in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, on whose coronation day in 1953 the first successful ascent was announced.  The guests include an old man in a wheelchair accompanied by his wife and daughter, who is charged with pushing his chair.  Among the speeches, lauding the roles played by the famous names, Sir John Hunt, the expedition leader, and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to the summit, the expedition doctor, Dr Michael Ward, announces that he wants to talk about a man he regards as the unsung hero of Everest.  After a suitably dramatic pause, he names the man he feels deserves on such an auspicious night to be given overdue recognition as Dr Griffith Pugh.

The woman in charge of the wheelchair, whose occupant had been left to watch from the back of hall for fear of obstructing the entrance of Her Majesty, is taken aback.  The unsung hero is her father, a man she knew only as a remote and irascible parent, yet whose contribution to the Everest expedition in the view of Dr Ward had been the most important of all, his ground-breaking research and the revolutionary ideas introduced as a result making the difference between failure and success.  The daughter pushing the wheelchair was Harriet Tuckey, on whom this moment of unexpected revelation had such a lasting impact that in time she resolved that her father's work, which can still be seen today in the training programmes of athletes, cyclists and swimmers as well as climbers, had to be recorded for posterity.  Everest: The First Ascent, is his and her story.

Rugby Book of the Year

City Centre: High Ball to High Finance, by Simon Halliday (Matador)

Simon Halliday's candid autobiography reveals the secrets from Twickenham's corridors of power seen from the perspective of an England rugby international, giving his take on the battle for control of the Rugby Football Union and England's descent from World Cup heroes to zeroes after the pinnacle of 2003, criticising the game's rulers for driving Sir Clive Woodward out of the game.

In his second career as a city trader he gives a first-hand account of the fateful morning in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed, triggering a global financial crisis.
His analysis of the merger of the Swiss banking giants UBS and SBC and the behaviour of Credit Suisse is as astute as his commentary on Bath's all conquering rugby team of the 1980s, under the guidance of the brilliant coach, Jack Rowell.  Halliday talks honestly and unashamedly about key people in his playing and business careers in a book as open as his personality.

Illustrated Book of the Year

Incredible Waves: An Appreciation of Perfect Surf, by Chris Power (Orca Publications)

The sport of surfing has no man-made stadiums or racetracks. Its proving grounds are a small number of classic reef and point breaks scattered across the world’s oceans with names like Pipeline, Cloudbreak, The Superbank, Teahupoo, Uluwatu, Desert Point, Skeleton Bay and Apocalypse.

Incredible Waves is a stunning coffee-table book of photographs that capture the beauty and majesty of these awesome aquatic arenas – waves which are as dangerous as they are enticing, for photographers as well as surfers.  Interspersed with the thoughts of some of surfing's most dedicated devotees, it is a book to inspire new ways of looking at waves and surf photography.   Chris Power, the former editor of leading European surf magazine Carve, shares some of the secrets behind his stunning images.

The award for Best Publicity Campaign went to Karen Geary and Rebecca Monday at Hodder, who were responsible for driving the huge success of Sir Alex Ferguson's simply-titled My Autobiography.  The Retailer of the Year was won by Waterstones.



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