William Hill has announced the ‘final six’ books and authors that will compete for its ‘Sports Book of the Year’ (SBOTY2019) heritage award, a prize recognised as the most prestigious accolade in English sports literature.
The bookmaker’s judging panel, which this year is led by The Times lead football journalist and author Alysson Rudd, has narrowed SBOTY2019’s initial longlist of 14 books to its final six – competing for a £30,000 cash prize and the recognition of being 2019’s best sports book.
Making SBOTY2019’s final line-up are two books which explore the psyche of competing in extreme sports – ‘Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance‘ by Adharanand Finn and ‘Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Wildest Horse Race’ by Lara Prior-Palmer.
Sports ability to unite divided communities is recognised in the nomination of ‘In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles’ by Donald McRae – recounting the boxing stories during the height of unrest in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, ‘Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump‘ by Rick Reilly acknowledges the comedic context and political duplicity behind the 45th US President’s success on the golf course.
The dark side of sports is uncovered by ‘Position of Trust: A Football Dream Betrayed‘ by Andy Woodward which documents a harrowing account of football’s first whistleblower, breaking the silence on the scandal of sexual abuse in youth clubs and junior teams.
Completing the shortlist is two-time winner SBOTY winner, Duncan Hamilton, with ‘The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus’ – a biography charting the voyage of a self-educated athlete raised in troubled hardship to become one of the most influential sports writers of all time.
Chair of the Judging Panel, Rudd said: “From another strong longlist, we now have an exceptional ‘Big Six’ going forward to the final stage, and the race really is wide open. This year’s shortlist not only showcases the often eye-opening struggles and solace that can accompany sporting achievement, but also provides astonishing insight into the complexity of the protagonists. Above all, the writing is impressive, ranging from assured to witty to deeply moving.”