Tremendous tales involving athletics, football, cricket, horse racing, surfing and swimming all make the final shortlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016 award, the world’s richest and longest-running prize for sports writing.
The seven-strong shortlist includes Oliver Kay’s Forever Young, which details the the short, intriguing life of eccentric Northern Irish football prodigy Adrian Doherty, who was offered a five-year contract with Manchester United on his 17th birthday yet died in mysterious circumstances having never realised his true potential.
The controversial cricketer, writer and journalist, Peter Roebuck, another figure who’s life was ended too soon, has his unpredictable character and sudden death illustrated in Tim Lane and Elliott Cartledge’s volume, Chasing Shadows.
Barbarian Days, by journalist William Finnegan, tells the story of a restless young man who finds that surfing both anchors him and takes him around the world as he makes the transition from his teenage years to adulthood.
Find a Way by swimmer Diana Nyad is constructed around the remarkable story of her attempt to swim the 100 miles between Cuba and the coast of Florida without a shark cage. Nyad, who was 28 at the time of her first attmept, chronicles her life and how she ultimately became the first person to complete the treacherous crossing over three decades later, aged 64.
Rick Broadbent receives his third shortlisting for this award with his book, Prize for Endurance. Broadbent looks at the life of the Olympic track legend Emil Zatopek.
Rory Smith’s book, Mister, examines how English football managers helped the game become the global sport it is today, while Christopher McGrath’s Mr Darley’s Arabian tells the story of horse racing through following the bloodline of 25 thoroughbred horses, from a colt bought from Bedouin tribesmen more than 300 years ago, to the modern champion and superhorse, Frankel.
William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016 – Shortlist
The seven titles in the running to be crowned the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016 (alphabetically by author surname):
Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zatopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
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)
The judging panel for this year’s award is comprised of – journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson; retired footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association Clarke Carlisle; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and the Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd.
The chair of the judges is Graham Sharpe, co-creator of the award alongside John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages bookshop, who retired after the 2015 award and died earlier this year.
The winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2016 and receiver of the £28,000 winner’s cheque will be announced at an afternoon reception at Bafta, London, on Thursday, November 24th.