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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Tragic tale of Tyrone's Adrian Doherty included in shortlist for William Hill award

Six sports are represented across the seven titles.

OLIVER KAY’S BOOK on the tragic tale of former Manchester United football prodigy Adrian Doherty is one of seven titles included on the shortlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.

‘Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius’ tells of the story of the Strabane youngster’s career which never reached its full potential and also of a life cut short too soon, having ended in tragic circumstances when he drowned at the age of 26 after falling into an Amsterdam canal.

While six sports are covered in the seven-strong shortlist, the majority of titles dig deep into their subjects’ psyches to reveal the inner sportsman or sportswoman, showing how their strengths and weaknesses helped and hindered them in the pursuit of their dreams.

This is demonstrated in two memoirs set mainly amongst the waves: Barbarian Days by journalist William Finnegan and Find a Way by swimmer Diana Nyad.

The elegiac ‘Barbarian Days’, surfing’s first appearance in the prize and already a Pulitzer Prize-winner, tells the story of a restless young man whose sport both anchors him and takes him around the world as he becomes an adult.

Diana Nyad’s inspirational memoir is a testimony to the indomitability of the human spirit: a world class swimmer at a very young age, Nyad first attempted to swim the 100 miles between Havana, Cuba and the coast of Florida without a shark cage aged 28. She finally became the first person to complete the treacherous crossing over three decades later, aged 64.

Controversial cricketer, writer and broadcaster Peter Roebuck, another figure who died before his time, has his unpredictable character and sudden death examined in Tim Lane and Elliott Cartledge’s ‘Chasing Shadows’.

Rick Broadbent receives his third shortlisting for the ‘Prize for Endurance’, which looks at the life of Olympic track legend Emil Zátopek. The greatest runner of his generation, Zátopek’s character was sorely tested as he fell from favour with his country’s Communist rulers, suffering countless indignities before coming in from the cold following Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.

Rounding off this year’s shortlist: Rory Smith’s ‘Mister’, which looks at how English football managers helped the ‘beautiful game’ become the global sport it is today; and Christopher McGrath’s ‘Mr Darley’s Arabian’, which tells the story of horse racing by following the bloodline of 25 thoroughbreds, from a colt bought from Bedouin tribesmen over 300 years ago, to the modern champion, Frankel.

The winner of the prize will be awarded £28,000 with the announcement to come on Thursday, 24 November.

  • Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek 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, LowLife, 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)

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