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Tyson Fury picked up two awards, winning Sports Autobiography of the Year, as well as the night’s big prize, as Behind The Mask won The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year 2020, selected from a shortlist of each of this year’s winning titles. The judging academy came to a unanimous decision, with a book that charts the extraordinary story of the rise and fall and rise again of Tyson Fury.
Eddie Jones, the England Rugby Coach, won the Rugby Writers’ Book of the Year, pipping his coaching rival Warren Gatland and former Lions captain Sam Warburton to the title. Written alongside Donald McRae, the three-time Sports Feature Writer of the Year and twice winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, My Life and Rugby is the story of one of the most compelling and singular figures in sport. A story told with unflinching honesty, not least in his account of England’s 2019 World Cup campaign, this is the ultimate rugby book for all fans.
Eddie Jones said:
“I’m delighted to win rugby book of the year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020. I’m also really pleased for the publishers Macmillan and writer Don McRae. They did such a great job in putting the book together so I think this is great recognition for them. It’s nice that people have enjoyed the book and hopefully they’ve got something out of it as well. Thank you to the panel for selecting the book for this award.”
With English Cricket finally getting under way only last week, The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year was deservedly given to Cricket 2.0 by The Telegraph cricket writer Tim Wigmore, alongside Freddie Wilde, charting the rise of T20 cricket. The book is fast becoming a roaring success, after picking up the Wisden Cricket Book of the Year award.
Football has returned recently, albeit in a different guise, although this year’s winner is more concerned with matters off the pitch, with Tobias Jones and his book Ultra picking up the CLOC Football Book of the Year, in partnership with The Football Writers’ Association. Ultra is a fascinating examination into a facet of Italian football’s subculture, scrutinising the sinister side of fandom.
Cycling’s popularity has continued to rise throughout lockdown, as has Peter Cossins’ star, as he picks up the VAARU Cycling Book of the Year for the second year running with The Yellow Jersey. His book, beautifully illustrating the allure of the Yellow Jersey, stunned our judging panel.
The Telegraph Sports Book Awards have partnered with the inspirational National Literacy Trust as our official charity partner for 2020, and they have also helped us set up the inaugural Children’s Sports Book of the Year. We hope the award will inspire children and young people to get into reading through their love of sport. Matt Oldfield’s excellent Unbelievable Football was a worthy winner of the very first award, after managing to stave off the challenge of Sir Chris Hoy, England footballer Casey Stoney and BBC Sport’s Clare Balding.
Our inaugural winner Matt said:
“I’m absolutely delighted to win this award, especially with so many other brilliant books on the shortlist. The late great Johan Cruyff once said, ‘Football has to be fun for kids or it doesn’t make sense’, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for reading too. With Unbelievable Football, our aim was to showcase the incredible range and power of sporting stories – to inspire, inform, entertain, and, above all, engage young readers. So thank you, this award is the perfect prize.”
The Pinsent Masons International Sports Book of the Year was awarded to Casey Legler’s Godspeed. Legler was a teenage Olympic Swimmer whose early adult life was beset with problems. Godspeed is a raw account of dealing with horrific abuse, battling alcoholism and drug use; it is a story of survival against all odds.
Brian Moore, Telegraph Rugby Writer and Chairman of the judging category, was blown away by Casey’s book, stating “It’s an amazing and powerful memoir and a worthy winner.”
This year’s General Outstanding Sports Writing Award winner was Mind Games, an insider’s guide to the psychology of elite athletes from Olympic rower Annie Vernon, who won silver in Beijing, alongside Dame Katherine Grainger, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton. Drawing on her personal experiences, as well as interviews with some of the best coaches, athletes, and psychologists, Vernon explores and uncovers the traits and techniques of the world’s best athletes.
The Illustrated Sports Book of the Year Award went to award-winning photographer Richard Pelham with A Life Behind the Lens, an extensive look at Sun Sport’s leading photographer’s life work spanning 30 years and six World Cups.
Finally, Biography of the Year went to Richard Askwith’s Unbreakable, a story of endurance and defiance, focusing on the inspirational life of a Czech countess and her perilous journey to taking part in a prestigious steeplechase.
The prestigious Sports Book Awards Judging Academy features dozens of esteemed sports men and women, as well as the country’s finest sports writers across several generations. This year’s judges included Sir Tim Rice, ex-England rugby player Brian Moore, ex-England cricketer and leading broadcaster Darren Gough, Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, BBC Broadcaster Louise Minchin, European Rugby Chairman Simon Halliday and BBC broadcaster Jill Douglas.
The 18th Sports Book of the Year Awards was sponsored for the second time by The Telegraph, and hosted by BBC Sport and ITV Racing host Rishi Persad. The highlights show for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 was pre-recorded at Wimbledon, with thanks to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, as well as BBC Sport. The announcement was led by an extensive social campaign, which included acceptance videos from our winners, judges’ comments, and several winners’ interviews with our host Rishi, BBC and Sky Sports.
Adam Sills, Head of Sport, The Telegraph said:
“The Sports Book Awards have delivered another great shortlist and campaign this year, despite difficult circumstances. We are happy to be once again supporting these awards and the work they do to highlight outstanding sports writing and publishing. Congratulations to all the winners and those shortlisted this year.”
Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Behind the Mask, Tyson Fury (Century)
Autobiography of the Year Behind the Mask, Tyson Fury (Century)
Biography of the Year Unbreakable, Richard Askwith (Vintage)
Children’s Sports Book of the Year Unbelievable Football, Matt Oldfield (Wren & Rook)
The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year Cricket 2.0, Tim Wigmore & Freddie Wilde (Polaris)
VAARU Cycling Book of the Year The Yellow Jersey, Peter Cossins (Yellow Jersey Press)
CLOC Football Book of the Year Ultra, Tobias Jones (Head of Zeus)
General Outstanding Sports Writing Award Mind Games, Annie Vernon (Bloomsbury)
Illustrated Book of the Year A Life Behind the Lens, Richard Pelham (Pitch Publishing)
Pinsent Masons International Autobiography of the Year Godspeed, Casey Legler (Scribe)
Rugby Book of the Year My Life and Rugby, Eddie Jones (Macmillan)
The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 are grateful to our sponsors and partners, including The Telegraph, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, CLOC Printing, The Football Writers’ Association, Pinsent Masons, VAARU Cycles, The Rugby Writers’, Sir Tim Rice’s The Heartaches, Cross Pens and our charity partners, The National Literacy Trust.