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Here are the 15 sports books longlisted for the William Hill prize

David Walsh’s The Russian Affair is among the contenders for the big prize.

DAVID WALSH’S BOOK, The Russian Affair, which investigates the story of Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme is among the contenders to feature on the longlist for the 2020 William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize.


Irish journalist Walsh recently spoke to The42′s Behind the Lines about the release of the book he penned with whistleblowers Yuliya Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov.

He is one of two longlisted authors focus on Russia’s scheme, while another goes deep into the underbelly of surfing with a ‘beyond-belief’ true-crime tale.   

The prestigious accolade sees a number of critics vote to determine the best sportsbook of the year, with no previous victors featuring in the longlist for the 32nd edition of the award.

A record 152 entries entered this year, written about a wide range of sports including tennis, football, rugby, cricket, cycling, formula one, surfing, Muay Thai, mountaineering and, for the first time in the awards’ history – esports.

Three female authors also make the list: three strong contenders including world champion Muay Thai fighter Ruqsana Begum, former England rugby captain Catherine Spencer and endurance cyclist Emily Chappell. 

The shortlist of six books will be announced on 27 October and the winner will be announced on 3 December at the new home of the awards, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

The shortlisted authors will each receive £3,000 while the victor will, decided by a judging panel chaired by Alyson Rudd, will collect a cheque for £30,000 and the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year trophy.

Previous winners of the William Hill include Rough Ride: An Insight into Pro Cycling by Irish journalist Paul Kimmage, Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life by Nick Hornby and Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton.

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Hamilton collected the award for a record third time in 2019 for his biography ‘The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus’.


The longlist in full (alphabetically by author’s surname):

  • Born Fighter by Ruqsana Begum
  • A People’s History of Tennis by David Berry
  • This is eSports (and how to spell it) by Paul Chaloner
  • Where There’s a Will by Emily Chappell
  • The World Beneath Their Feet by Scott Ellsworth
  • The Unforgiven by Ashley Gray
  • Nick Lauda by Maurice Hamilton
  • Surf, Sweat and Tears by Andy Martin
  • Fringes by Ben Mercer
  • The Farther Corner by Harry Pearson
  • Out of the Darkness: From Top to Rock Bottom: My Story in Football by Joe Brewin and Matt Piper
  • The Breath of Sadness: On Love, Grief & Cricket by Ian Ridley
  • The Rodchenkov Affair by Grigory Rodchenkov
  • Mud, Maul, Mascara by Catherine Spencer
  • The Russian Affair by David Walsh

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Kevin O'Brien

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