As the world’s best footballers continue to battle it out on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ve a compelling list of outstanding biographies, moving personal accounts, light hearted tributes and historical explorations to fill the time between games!
We travel through Northern Ireland, Colombia, Germany, Brazil, France, Ireland and Brazil in the most diverse Telegraph Sports Book Awards Football longlist to date.
Stories told by our greatest football writers, young and old, male and female, tackle a range of themes, including corruption at the highest level, the impact of corporate capitalism on football and a potential antidote to the status quo, we’ve stories of trailblazers, national rebels, national heroes and heroic failures.
Selected by the Football Writers’ Association and sponsored for a second year by CLOC Printing, the Football Book of the Year is one of 11 Telegraph Sports Book Awards categories. All the shortlists will be unveiled in a virtual announcement on July 28th 2021, with the gala dinner and awards ceremony to be held on September 20th 2021 – NEW venue to be announced soon!.
Jim Keoghan’s How to Run a Football Club tells the story of our national game, exploring common themes between sunday league and the premier league. Harry Pearson follows up his classic The Far Corner, with The Farther Corner, another poignant assessment of football in the North-East. A little further from home, Hassanin Mubarak tells the story of the early years of the Iraqi Football team in Birth of the Lions of Mesopotamia, while Steven Scragg provides a definitive account of the glory years of the UEFA Cup in Where the Cool Kids Hung Out.
Heather L. Dichter assesses how football has influenced and been influenced by international relations over the past century, with her expertly researched and insightful, Soccer Diplomacy. James Montague uncovers the growing political influence of the Ultras in his immersive book 1312: Among the Ultras. Carles Viñas & Natxo Parras’ St. Pauli explain how the club and it’s tribal following offer up an alternative future for football. Conversely, Mark Tighe & Paul Rowans’ story, Champagne Football, looks at another shocking example of how unrestricted power can have catastrophic consequences, telling the story of John Delaney’s destruction of the FA of Ireland. Daniel Gray reminds us all there is still much to love about the modern game in Extra Time, with 50 reasons why we still love football.
Matthew Spiro’s Sacré Bleu gives a fascinating account of the rise and fall and rise again of France’s national team, told through the lens of Kylian Mbappé. Stuart Horsfield’s 1982 Brazil tells the story of arguably the most famous Brazilian side, told through the eyes of a young boy who fell in love with the team. Laura Lexx’s humorous imagined diary of married life with Jürgen Klopp tells of an altogether different kind of love in Klopp Actually. Every bit as unreal and fascinating is Tim Rich’s account of the brilliance behind Marcelo ‘El Loco’ Bielsa in The Quality of Madness. Finally, Flight to Bogota by John Leonard tells the unbelievable story of the English players that turned their back on the English game in a stand against mistreatment by their clubs, led by first-choice English centre-half, Neil Franklin.
The CLOC Football Book of the Year, judged by the Football Writers’ Association is part of The Telegraph Sports Book Awards, which celebrate their 19th birthday this year.
The esteemed Telegraph Sports Book Awards Judging Academy includes an outstanding group of sports celebrities, broadcasters and journalists, with this years’ judges including: Clare Balding, Miles Jupp, Simon Brotherton, Adam Smith, Christine Ohuruogu, Oliver Brown, Darren Gough, Simon Halliday and Sir Tim Rice.
David Willis, Chairman of the Telegraph Sports Book Awards said: “We are delighted to be announcing the Football Writers’ Association Book of the Year Longlist and working in partnership with CLOC Printing for the second year in a row, and honoured to continue an excellent relationship with the highly esteemed Football Writers’ Association.”
Philippe Auclair, Chair of the Football Writers Association Books Committee, commented: “2020, the year of the pandemic, presented a unique challenge to writers and publishers alike, a challenge to which they responded superbly. This longlist is testimony to the vitality of football writing in the UK and in the English-speaking world as a whole; it also demonstrates how football writing keeps expanding its reach beyond the traditional boundaries of the genre. The fourteen books which we selected reflect this richness. Academic works sit alongside biographies, essays, historical accounts, moving personal reminiscences and works of humour, by male and female writers of all ages. I believe that of all the longlists the FWA Book Committee has ever drawn, this one is, by far, the most genuinely diverse we’ve selected, and purely on merit. This is an encouraging sign for football writing as a whole. It is also proof of its resilience in what has been a hugely difficult time for football and those who write about it.”
Alongside CLOC Printing, The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Awards partners include Clays, VAARU Cycles, Pinsent Masons, Arbuthnot Latham, Sky Sports, Tim Rice’s The Heartaches & The National Literacy Trust. The final shortlists for all categories for the 2021 Sports Book of the Year Awards will be announced virtually on July 28th 2021. The winners ceremony will be a gala dinner and awards ceremony on September 20th 2021 – NEW venue to be announced soon!
The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Categories 2021:
Best Sports Writing Award
Autobiography of the Year
International Autobiography of the Year
Children’s Sports Book of the Year
Cricket Book of the Year
Football Book of the Year
Cycling Book of the Year
Illustrated Book of the Year
Rugby Book of the Year
Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year
Sports Entertainment Book of the Year