2021 Shortlist Out Now!


Clare Balding joins a stellar group of judges for the inaugural Sports Writing Award, including former Olympic Champion Christine Ohuruogu and England cricket legend Darren Gough.

For the first time, The Telegraph Sports Book Awards to take place at The Kia Oval’s new hospitality suite on 20th September 2021.

Shortlist includes Joe Wicks, Jamie Redknapp, Harry Pearson, Eddie Hearn, Andy Cole, David Walsh, Tyson Fury, Andy Robertson, Ruqsana Begum, Tom Fordyce, Gianluca Vialli, Jeff Stelling, Geraint Thomas, Chloe Madeley, Luka Modric, Nicklas Bendtner, Marco Van Basten, Joe Marler, Rob Kearney, Catherine Spencer, James Haskell, Chris Sutton, Alan Brazil and many more. 

The shortlist for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2021, announced today, features a diverse mix of extraordinary writing from new and established writers and sportspeople across 11 categories, including the inaugural Clays Best Sports Writing Award, the fiercely contested CLOC Football Book of the Year as judged by the FWA, The Arbuthnot Latham Rugby Book of the Year, adjudicated by The Rugby Writers’ Club, The Children’s Book of the Year supported by our charity partner, The National Literacy Trust, as well as another new category, Sports Entertainment Book of the Year, in recognition of a rapidly growing area of sports writing.

Arsene Wenger, shortlisted in the International Autobiography of the Year, says:

‘I am honoured to see my book, MY LIFE IN RED AND WHITE, shortlisted for International Autobiography of the Year alongside such outstanding sportspeople. I am grateful to the judges for recognising my story in this way and proud to show that sport crosses international borders to unite us all.’

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards is the major annual promotion for sports writing and publishing. The awards exist to highlight the most outstanding sports books of the previous calendar year, to showcase their merits and, to enhance their reputation and profile.

To tie in with the announcement of The Telegraph Sports Book Awards shortlist, the public are now, for the first time ever, being asked to cast their votes online for their favourite sports books of the year. The Sports Book Awards esteemed judging panels are still in place for each category associated with an individual sport, where judging remains under the remit of the respective sports writing associations.

The Autobiography of the Year, International Autobiography or the Year, Sports Entertainment of the Year, and Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year will all be decided by an online web-poll divided into two constituencies, a public vote and a specialist SBA Academy vote, weighted equally and combined to provide the winners. 

Voting is now live on the BRAND NEW Sports Book Awards website – CLICK HERE TO VOTE  but keep your eyes peeled, as there will be more information on the voting process released across the Sports Book Awards channels in the coming weeks.

The inaugural Clays Sports Writing Award will also be adjudicated by a specifically assembled panel, with Clare Balding appointed as the judging chair for 2021. The award replaces the Biography and General Outstanding categories, ensuring the very best works are appropriately recognised within a singular category. Alongside Clare Balding, the judges include Olympic Champion Christine Ohuruogu, Sky Boxing’s Adam Smith, Cricketer and TalkSport host Darren Gough, The Telegraph’s Chief Sportswriter Oliver Brown, The Chairman of European Rugby Simon Halliday and Olympic Silver medallist and bestselling author Annie Vernon. They will be looking for outstanding storytelling with literary merit that leaves a lasting impact on the reader.

Olympic champion and judging panellist Christine Ohuruogu says:

‘I’m thrilled to be part of the judging panel for the inaugural Sports Writing Award. It’s a fantastic campaign and ceremony and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the outstanding books with a stellar group of sports stars, broadcasters and journalists.’

The Sports Book Award’s Children’s Sports Book of the Year, once again in association with The National Literacy Trust, encompasses a broad range of excellent Children’s titles. Picture books, YA titles, fiction and non-fiction will all be considered, leaving this year’s judges with a tough decision. However, all shortlisted books encourage a love of reading through sports & physical activity, using sports & sporting stories to inspire its young readers. The National Literacy Trust is a charity dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of children who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life. Over the past 20 years, the charity has improved the literacy skills of more than a million children through the power of sport.

Sports Book Awards founder and Chairman David Willis reflects:

‘There has been an explosion of titles in the sports department of bookshops and this reflects the enormous and growing interest in the worlds of sport and games, fitness and leisure and mindfulness and meditation.

The energetic and imaginative team who make this lively and much anticipated event happen, work throughout the year reading, debating, sometimes arguing, and above all enthusing all comers with their love of sport and its literary heritage. My sincere thanks to everyone at AGILE, Omar Khan and our hard working judging academy.

We remain committed to the work of the National Literacy Trust. The numerous initiatives the National Literacy Trust run to increase child literacy rates are absolutely essential, and we look forward to using our platform to help them meet that challenge. The Children’s Sports Book Award provides the opportunity to recognise fantastic contributions to Children’s sporting literature.

Sport is such an integral part of the essential British psyche so it is inevitable that reading and reflecting upon it continues to give us all great pleasure and enjoyment.’

Finally, winners will all be announced on September 20th at a London gala ceremony in the 175 Suite, The Kia Oval’s brand-new hospitality suite. The Sports Book Awards are delighted to be hosting the showpiece event in partnership with such a historic venue. Tickets will be available to purchase at sportsbookawards.com from Tuesday 3rd August. 


The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2021 shortlist is as follows:

The Clays Best Sports Writing Award

  • Frankel – Simon Cooper (HarperCollins)
  • The Biggest Bluff – Maria Konnikova (HarperCollins)
  • The Moth and the Mountain – Ed Caesar (Viking)
  • The Russian Affair – David Walsh (Simon and Schuster)
  • The Breath of Sadness – Ian Ridley (Floodlit Dreams)
  • The Farther Corner – Harry Pearson (Simon and Schuster) 


Autobiography of the Year

  • Me, Family and the Making of a Footballer – Jamie Redknapp (Headline)
  • Fast Forward – Andrew Cole (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Out of the Darkness – Matt Piper (Pitch Publishing)
  • Robbo: Now You’re Gonna Believe Us – Andy Robertson (Reach Sport)
  • Born Fighter – Ruqsana Begum (Simon and Schuster)
  • Mud, Maul, Mascara – Catherine Spencer (Unbound)


Children’s Book of the Year, in association with National Literacy Trust

  • My Greatest Football Team Ever – Tom Fordyce and Kieran Carroll (Hachette Children’s Group)
  • Chasing a Rugby Dream – James Hook and David Brayley (Polaris)
  • Johnny Ball: Accidental Football Genius – Matt Oldfield and Tim Wesson (Walker Books)
  • Karate Kids – Holly Sterling (Walker Books)
  • Football Superstars: Rashford Rules – Simon Mugford and Dan Green (Welbeck)
  • Macbeth United – Michael Rosen and Tony Ross (Scholastic)
  • OWN GOAL! (Football Mad #1) – Paul Stewart and Michael Broad (Barrington Stoke)
  • Roy of the Rovers: Rocky – Tom Palmer and Dan Cornwell (Rebellion Publishing)


The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year

  • The Commonwealth of Cricket – Ramachandra Guha (HarperCollins)
  • Comeback Summer – Geoff Lemon (Hardie Grant)
  • One Long and Beautiful Summer – Duncan Hamilton (Riverrun)
  • Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches – Dr Colin Shindler (Pitch Publishing)
  • That Will be England Gone – Michael Henderson (Constable)
  • The Unforgiven, The Missionaries or Mercenaries? – Ashley Gray (Pitch Publishing)
  • Bob Willis: A Cricketer and a Gentleman – Bob Willis, Mike Dickson (Hodder & Stoughton)


VAARU Cycling Book of the Year

  • Colombia Es Pasión – Matt Rendell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Dead Man to Iron Man – Paul Smith (Pitch Publishing)
  • Signs of Life: To the Ends of the Earth with a Doctor – Stephen Fabes (Pursuit, Profile Books)
  • Mountains According to G – Geraint Thomas (Quercus)
  • Tour de France Champions: An A-Z – Giles Belbin (The History Press)


CLOC Football Book of the Year, in association with the Football Writers’ Association

  • Sacré Bleu: Zidane to Mbappé – A football journey -Matthew Spiro (Biteback Publishing)
  • Champagne Football – Mark Tighe & Paul Rowan (Sandycove, Penguin)
  • The Quality of Madness – Tim Rich (Quercus)
  • Soccer Diplomacy – Heather L. Dichter (UKP)
  • How to Run a Football Club – Jim Keoghan (Pitch Publishing)
  • St. Pauli: Another Football is Possible – Natxo Parra, Carles Vina (Pluto Press)


Illustrated Book of the Year

  • British Football’s Greatest Grounds – Mike Bayly (Pitch Publishing)
  • Skate Like A Girl – Carolina Amell (Prestel)
  • This is Cricket – Daniel Melamud (Rizzoli)
  • We Are Home – Mike Dunn & AFC Wimbledon (Vision Sports Publishing)
  • 175 Years of Surrey CCC, Surrey CCC (Vision Sports Publishing)


Pinsent Masons International Autobiography of the Year

  • Luka Modrić: My Autobiography – Luka Modrić (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • True Colours – Barry Geraghty (Headline)
  • Both Sides – Nicklas Bendtner; Rune Skyum-Nielsen (Octopus)
  • Basta – My Life, My Truth – Marco van Basten (Octopus)
  • My Life in Red and White – Arsene Wenger (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • No Hiding – Rob Kearney (Reach Sport)


Arbuthnot Latham Rugby Book of the Year, in association with The Rugby Writers’ Club

  • Loose Head – Joe Marler (Ebury)
  • What A Flanker – James Haskell (HarperCollins)
  • Our Blood Is Green – Gavin Rich (Polaris)
  • Exe Men – Robert Kitson (Polaris)           
  • The Hurt – Dylan Hartley (Viking)
  • No Hiding – Rob Kearney (Reach Sport)


Sports Entertainment Book of the Year

  • Never Stop Dreaming – Stuart Pearce, Oliver Holt (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • You’re Better Than That – Chris Sutton (Monoray, Octopus)
  • Only Here For A Visi – Alan Brazil (Bantam Press, Transworld Books)
  • Lights Out, Full Throttle – Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert (Pan Macmillan)
  • 26.2 Miles to Happiness – Paul Tonkinson (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • I’ve Got Mail – Jeff Stelling (Headline)


Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year

  • Relentless: 12 Rounds to Success – Eddie Hearn (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Whitlock Workout – Max Whitlock (Headline)
  • Goals: Inspirational Stories to Help Tackle Life’s Challenges – Gianluca Vialli and Gabriele Marcotti (Headline)
  • 30 Day Kick Start Plan – Joe Wicks (Bluebird, Pan Macmillan)
  • The Furious Method – Tyson Fury (Century, Cornerstone)
  • Eating for Results – Chloe Madeley (Bantam Press, Transworld Books)