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Sports Book of the Year

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Gabby Logan | 15:55 UK time, Thursday, 25 November 2010

Wayne Rooney signing a book deal.

I suppose I grew up on a diet of sports biographies and books. Like a lot of sportsmen, my dad Terry Yorath didn't read much else. He usually chose other footballers' books, but as a keen horse man he did like racing biographies too.

I remember reading Lester Piggott's book when I was a teenager - I was probably the only kid in my class reading that.

Tony Cascarino's book, which came out about twelve years ago, seemed to change the way sporting stars wrote about themselves.

Most publishers had tended to focus on the career of an athlete and what he or she did on the field of play, but Cascarino's very candid look at himself and his personal life gave a much fuller picture. He also revealed a brilliant secret: he wasn't really Irish, and that helped to make the book a bestseller.

I love finding out what makes the brilliant sports people we adore tick, how they got to the top of their game, what makes them special, and finding out they have insecurities and failings, just like us.

Andre Agassi's book, Open, is one of the six shortlisted entries for this year's William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

It's a great example of a sportsman we all feel we know revealing a tortured and uncomfortable side to himself, which in his case makes me admire him even more.

Brian Moore's book is also a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of a complicated man.

Of course, not all of the books are biographies, and I really enjoyed Matthew Syed's book Bounce, which is about how different athletes have made it in their chosen sports. My only regret was that I hadn't read it as a 15 year old gymnast.

My husband Kenny Logan wrote his book Just For Kicks last year and I know he found it a cathartic experience. Perhaps that's why so many sportsmen do it. Maybe it can finally lay the ghost of a career to rest.

Gabby will speak to nominees and reveal the winner of the 2010 William Hill Book Of The Year Award during the show on Tuesday 30 November. It will be live from the award ceremony from 12pm-2pm.

This year's nominees:

  • Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
  • Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend by Catrine Clay
  • A Last English Summer by Duncan Hamilton
  • Blood Knots by Luke Jennings
  • Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All by Brian Moore
  • Bounce: How Champions Are Made by Matthew Syed


  • Comment number 1.

    I havn't yet read Duncan Hamiltons latest book, but if it is as good as the last two that he has won this award with then I imagine that he will easily win this year too. The intro to his book about Harold Larwood is worth the price alone. I have read Agassi's book and I do think it is very good. Do the people who actually write these books get the award though? Most of the vacuous autobiographies that litter the shelves are ghost written by journalists who then seem to write favourable things about them in their own papers ( Henry Winter - Steven Gerrard ). Agassi must have had a huge amount of imput to the book, but I doubt if he actually wrote it.
    Trautmann's Journey was brilliant aswell, You could argue that it wasn't really a Sports book though?

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm not sure Tony Cascarino's book can be claimed to be the one that changed the way sporting stars wrote about themselves. For a start, IIRC it wasn't Cascarino writing about himself: wasn't it ghosted by Paul Kimmage? But secondly, although it was a decent read, it came several years after Garry Nelson's seminal "Left Foot Forward" and Jonathan Agnew's "Eight Days a Week", which really changed the nature of sports books and were written by the sportsmen concerned.

  • Comment number 3.

    And of course Simon Hughes's "A Lot of Hard Yakka" pre-dates Agnew's book by six years.
    But I'm sure there must be others before then.

  • Comment number 4.

    Mea culpa, Hughes's book came out much later after Agnew's.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's an interesting comeptition that always has a fascinating and wide-ranging selection of books. One of my most memorable reads was Angry White Pajamas - far from a traditional sports book - which won in '98.

    @lunchtime_legend - A Lot of Hard Yakka won in '97 - great book.

  • Comment number 6.

    One of the best books not to win must have been 'All Played Out' by Pete Davis. Nick Hornby admits without this book Fever Pitch would never have been written - which of course did win it (I think?)

  • Comment number 7.

    I still occasionally dip into Simon Kuper's 'Football Against The Enemy', which won in '94. I was 15 or 16 when it came out, and it totally changed the way I think about football. I'm still fascinated (and slightly obsessed) by that intersection of football, politics and society.

    I don't know if it was the first of it's type, but since then, there have been plenty of very good books with a similar ethos (Alex Bellos' 'Futebol' is one that stands out). In fact, I'd be interested to hear of earlier writings that are in a similar vein.

  • Comment number 8.

    Regarding Agassi's book, it says in the back pages that someone called J. R. Moehringer actually wrote it from transcripts of many taped interviews with Agassi, but the tennis player was heavily involved in it at all stages. I read 'Open' earlier this year, and it is an excellent book. Many critics recommended it as an example of a good sporting autobiography - much much better than most of the tripe out there.


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