High quality shortlist for autobiography prize as the countdown begins ahead of 2017 Cross Sports Book Awards

The shortlist announced in the autobiography section of the Cross Sports Book Awards for 2017 features two footballers, two Olympic athletes, a cricketer and a Formula One world champion.

Those hoping to clinch the top prize when the winners are announced at Lord’s Cricket Ground next month are:

No Nonsense: The Autobiography, by Joey Barton (Simon & Schuster)
Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography, by Damon Hill (Macmillan)
This Mum Runs, by Jo Pavey (Yellow Jersey, PRH)
Unexpected: The Autobiography, by Greg Rutherford (Simon & Schuster)
Unguarded: My Autobiography, by Jonathan Trott (Sphere, Little Brown)
A Life in Football: My Autobiography, by Ian Wright (Constable, Little Brown)

The titles from the longlist that missed the cut were: Triumphs & Turbulence, by Chris Boardman (Ebury, PRH); What Doesn’t Kill You… by Johnny Herbert (Transworld); Firestarter, by Ben Stokes (Headline); The Inside Track, by Laura Trott & Jason Kenny (Michael O’Mara); From Nowhere, by Jamie Vardy (Ebury, PRH) and The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb (Simon & Schuster).

There is some great reading among the six books on the list, all of which reflect the need for a modern sports autobiography to be somewhat more than a catalogue of highlights and anecdotes to persuade the reader to part with his or her cash.

Ian Wright
Ian Wright
None of the titles on the list reflects this more than Ian Wright’s autobiography, A Life in Football, in which ghost writer Lloyd Bradley translates the natural intelligence and observational astuteness of the former tearaway into considered analysis of many aspects of the game that gave him his living, from tactics and training methods to fellow players and managers. His assessment of Arsène Wenger, man and coach, offers a particularly interesting insight, as does his honest appraisal of his own career.

Joey Barton’s thoughts in his book, crafted by the expert hand of Michael Calvin – who ghosted the 2015 category winner, Proud, for rugby star Gareth Thomas, and is an award-winner in his own right – are as forthright as you would expect from a character no stranger to controversy.

Cricketer Jonathan Trott opens up on his mental breakdown in Unguarded, written with the help of another perceptive craftsman of the journalistic trade in ESPN Cricinfo's George Dobell, while Greg Rutherford, the long-jumper whose gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 was somewhat overshadowed as the spotlight focussed on Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, reveals more of the personality viewers of Strictly Come Dancing warmed to last year in Unexpected, written with The Guardian’s Sean Ingle.

Athlete and mum Jo Pavey
Athlete and mum Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey’s book, which is ghosted by Sarah Edworthy, as well as being a warm human story of how an inspirational athlete won a European championship gold medal just 10 months after giving birth to her second child, offers much insight as to how it feels to be cheated out of glory by rivals using drugs, while racing driver Damon Hill – the only one of the six to write the book entirely by himself – takes the reader to some dark places as his explores his inner demons in Watching the Wheels.

The 15th Cross Sports Book Awards will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on the evening of May 24 and will be hosted by Sky Sports News host Mike Wedderburn and Test Match Special’s Alison Mitchell.

This year’s panel of judges for the prestigious best autobiography award include former England rugby star Brian Moore, Olympic rowing gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger, National Hunt champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Sky Sports La Liga pundit Guillem Balague, sports editor of the Mail on Sunday Alison Kervin and Middlesex and England cricketer Nick Compton.

David Willis Chairman of the Sports Book Awards, commented: “Once again we have a great group of nominees in what is always a hugely competitive category.”

Sponsored by major international manufacturer of quality writing instruments AT Cross, the Autobiography of the Year Award celebrates and promotes the best memoirs from the previous twelve months.

Nicola Shepherd, Marketing Director at AT Cross said: “The power of putting pen to paper is clearly demonstrated by this group of elite sportsmen and women and I look forward to celebrating the winner who has truly made their mark at the awards ceremony.”


More reading:

All the winners from the 2016 Cross Sports Book Awards

Cricket Society-MCC 2017 Book of the Year shortlist announced

How Barbarian Days won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016