No Nonsense: Joey Barton's autobiography on the William Hill Sports Book of the Year longlist after just one day in the shops
Written in collaboration with Michael Calvin, the award-winning author and sports journalist, Barton's book promises to deliver a candid account of a life never far from the headlines on and off the field.
Calvin is the third writer to work with the player, who began the project in 2014 with Times journalist Matthew Syed and made one attempt to write it himself, which he did not sustain beyond nine chapters.
There is much detail, some of it quite harrowing, about his upbringing in hard-edged working class Liverpool, where many of his associates and even family members were involved in crime at one level or another. His brother, Michael, and his cousin, Paul Taylor, are serving jail sentences for the murder of an innocent black teenager.
The book has no shortage, too, of outspoken comment from an incident-packed career on the field. Barton, who has studied philosophy and appeared on the BBC's Question Time, is currently suspended by his latest club, Rangers, following a furious row with manager Mark Warburton and team-mate Andy Halliday that blew up in the wake of Rangers' 5-1 defeat against Celtic.
Also longlisted is former Formula One world champion Damon Hill's autobiography Watching the Wheels, in which he writes movingly about his father Graham Hill, who died before he could see his son triumph in the sport he once ruled.
Paternal relationships can also be found at the heart of two other titles in the running for the £28,000 cash prize that goes with the award.
‘How’s Your Dad?’ is Mick Channon junior's account of growing up in the shadow of a father who succeeded in not one sport but two, while Dan Waddell offers an affectionate portrait of his father, darts commentator Sid Waddell, one of sports broadcasting’s most fondly remembered figures, in We Had Some Laughs.
Elsewhere writers dig deep into their subjects’ histories to tell their stories as never before.
Oliver Kay’s acclaimed Forever Young is about “football’s lost genius”, the former Manchester United prodigy Adrian Doherty, who died aged 26 while working in Holland, having become estranged from the game he once loved.
Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge’s Chasing Shadows probes the life and violent death of controversial cricketer and commentator Peter Roebuck.
Double William Hill winner Duncan Hamilton takes on one of Britain’s greatest Olympians, Eric Liddell, in For the Glory.
Continuing the Olympic theme, the Czech long-distance runner Emil Zátopek is the subject of not one but two books on the longlist: Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith and Endurance by Rick Broadbent. Never before have two biographies about the same person have been in direct competition for the William Hill prize.
Football, which produced the 2015 winner, David Goldblatt's The Game of Our Lives, is the subject of two other longlisted titles in Football’s Coming Out, Neil Beasley's story of surviving and succeeding as a gay fan and footballer in an often homophobic sport, and Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game, by Times journalist Rory Smith, which looks at how English football managers helped take the sport around the world.
Also in contention are two books about the business of sport in Mr Darley’s Arabian, in which Christopher McGrath looks at the history of horse-breeding by following the bloodline of 25 exceptional horses, and Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog, which tells the story of one of sport’s most instantly recognisable brands, Nike.
Completing this year’s 17-strong longlist: William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Barbarian Days, which chronicles the journalist’s long love affair with surfing; Diana Nyad’s memoir Find a Way, culminating in her record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage, at the age of 64; Anna Kessel’s timely Eat Sweat Play, an examination of attitudes to women in sport today, in which she explores sporting taboos including body dysmorphia, periods, miscarriage, sex and the gender pay gap; and The Belt Boy, by Kevin Lueshing, which charts the hidden torment behind the boxing champion’s rise to the top.
The shortlist will be announced on October 18. The winner will be revealed at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday November 24. There will a poignancy about this year's award ceremony in that it will be the first since John Gaustad, the award's co-founder and proprietor of the much-missed Sportspages book shop in central London, passed away earlier this year.
The longlist in full (alphabetically by author’s surname):
- Today We Die a Little: The Rise & Fall of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend by Richard Askwith (Yellow Jersey Press)
- No Nonsense: The Autobiography by Joey Barton, with Michael Calvin (Simon & Schuster)
- Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
- Football’s Coming Out: Life as a Gay Fan and Player by Neil Beasley with Seth Burkett (Floodlit Dreams)
- ‘How’s Your Dad?’: Embracing Failure in the Shadow of Success by Mick Channon Jr (Racing Post Books)
- Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
- For the Glory: The Life of Eric Liddell by Duncan Hamilton (Doubleday)
- Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography by Damon Hill, with Maurice Hamilton (Macmillan)
- Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
- Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel (Macmillan)
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight (Simon & Schuster)
- Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
- The Belt Boy by Kevin Lueshing and Mike Dunn (Austin Macauley Publishers)
- Mr Darley’s Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life – A History of Racing in 25 Horses by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)
- Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)
- Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster)
- We Had Some Laughs: My Dad, The Darts and Me by Dan Waddell (Bantam Press)