Ahead of the coveted William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, the firm has provided a deeper insight into the thought behind each shortlisted nominee. 

Now in its 33rd year, the award is one of the world’s oldest and richest sports writing prizes with amazing stories and memoirs that reflect the landscape of sport over the past year.

William Hill Sports Book of the Year review panellist and renowned sports broadcaster Matt Williams previously said of the competition: “I’m delighted to have been involved in selecting the longlist for this prestigious award for a second year. The bar was set so high by last year’s entrants but it has been cleared this year. The number of celebrated and talented writers who missed out is testament to the strength of the longlist. Yet again, they demonstrate how lucky we are to be living in a golden age of sport writing.”

Firstly, Matt William spoke to Michael Holding about his powerful book ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise’, a deeply important analysis of racism in both sports and wider society. 

First awarded in 1989, the award is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing, and this year the prize for winning will be £30,000 and a trophy, with shortlisted authors receiving £3,000 cash and a leather-bound copy of their book.

Also on the shortlist was acclaimed boxing journalist Tris Dixon, who spoke to Williams about what led to him writing a book about life after the sport. 

Dixon detailed how he came to write the book after reading about CTE on a family holiday in Cape Verde. 

The award tends to shine a light on pioneers in sport and that’s exactly what Sasha Abramsky did as he portrayed the story of Lottie Dodd and her extraordinary tennis career. 

Dodd first captured Wimbledon at the age of 15, something that kickstarted a career in which glittered with major honours from an abundance of sports.

A passionate tennis fan, Abramsky detailed how he became besotted with the career of Dodd, who had ‘a remarkable story of breaking glass ceilings’. 

It’s history that often provides some of sport’s most gripping stories and Ed Caesar tralled back into annals to tell the story of Morris Wilson, an aviator whose story was previously relatively untold. 

At the culmination of writing the book, Caesar revealed he grew to have a relationship with Wilson similar to that of a family member – he loved him but he wouldn’t have wanted to go on holiday with them.

Conquering a hypothetical Everest, Tom English & Peter Burns told the story of the British and Irish Lions Tour of 1997, a gripping recollection of the Lions unbelievable tour in 1997. 

Speaking to Williams, English and Burns detailed how the tour was ‘a catalyst for their love of the Lions’, and writing the book gave them an opportunity to tell numerous chaotic stories from on and off the pitch that year.

The sole autobiography on the list is also in the sport of rugby, as the inspirational Rob Burrows revealed that releasing the book allowed him to leave the legacy of his life to his children. 

Burrow’s story details his extraordinary story and his battle with Motor Neurone Disease and the incredible courage and resilience he has shown to keep fighting to the very end. It tells the story of a man who is channelling all his determination and positivity into his biggest battle yet.

The judging panel for this year’s award consists of retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle, five-time Olympic medallist and rower Dame Katherine Grainger, broadcaster and writer John Inverdale, broadcaster Danny Kelly and journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson. The Chair of Judges is author and journalist Alyson Rudd.

‘Bar set high’ for 2021 William HIll Sports Book of the Year