The Telegraph Sports Book Awards winners 2019

June 4, 2019

Ben Ryan and Peter Crouch win big at The Telegraph Sports Book Awards, as Dame Kelly Holmes takes home the inaugural Sports Health and Fitness Book of the Year award.

Ben Ryan picked up two awards, winning Heineken’s Rugby Book of the Year, as well as the night’s big prize, as Sevens Heaven also won The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year, selected from a shortlist of all 2019’s winning category books. The judges came to a unanimous decision, with the Chair of Rugby Judges, Alan Pearey calling it “one of the best Rugby books ever written, shedding a fascinating light on the issues affecting Fijian Rugby, and accounting how he turned a hugely-gifted, but poorly prepared group of players into back-to-back World Series Champions and Olympic Gold Medalists”.

Peter Crouch was a runaway winner for the Sports Bestseller of 2018, with ghost writer and fellow podcaster Tom Fordyce collecting on his behalf. This was Tom’s second award of the night, ghost writing both Peter Crouch and Ben Ryan’s prize-winning books. Peter Crouch’s How to Be a Footballer captured the public’s imagination, thanks to his hilarious and brilliantly self-deprecating style, and his unadulterated insight into the world of the modern footballer.

The inaugural Sports Health and Fitness Book of the Year was picked up by Dame Kelly Holmes for her inspirational book on the mental health benefits of the Running Life. Dame Kelly Holmes spoke gracefully after her shortlisting, stating “It’s really great to be shortlisted. I hope the book is seen as a sports book with a difference. I doubt whether there has ever been a sports book with a mental health and mindset section, which is also the leading message for self-help to anyone involved in sport. I’d like to thank the Sports Book Awards for the platform to speak about mental health awareness in sport.”

Paul Ferris’s moving story, Boy on the Shed picked up the Autobiography of the Year. His riveting memoir was written with brutal candour, dark humour and consummate style, and was a clear winner amongst a strong shortlist. Paul Ferris was a teenage prodigy, becoming Newcastle’s youngest ever player, playing in the same team as Gazza and Waddle, only for injury to ensure his promise went unfulfilled. He returned to the club as a Physio, before earning a Masters degree and beginning a successful quest to qualify as a barrister. However, the lure of Newcastle United was always strong, and he returned for a third spell as Head of their Medical Department. His old colleague Alan Shearer gave an impassioned tribute on the night, paying homage to his friend’s hard work and determination in overcoming more than his fair share of set-backs, to excel across multiple professions.

The Football Book of the Year was shared for the first time in its history by Pulitzer Prize winner Ken Bensinger’s Red Card and German author Uli Hesse’s Building the Yellow Wall. Judging chair, the Football Writers Associations Philippe Auclair, declared that Ken’s book on FIFA’s dark heart and Uli’s account on the rise of Borussia Dortmund were both exceptional books, worthy of the award. Phillipe said “what a wonderful thing for the award to be given to two books that are bound to become part of the canon of great football titles.”

The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year, kindly supported by Sir Tim Rice, was awarded to Stephen Fay and David Kynsaton for Swanton and Arlott and The Soul of English Cricket. The judges felt this fascinating account of how two contrasting BBC broadcasters battled to save the soul of the game stood out as a book that transcends cricket, assessing the changing face of the professional game against the backdrop of great social change in post-war Britain.

The Getty Images Illustrated Book of the Year was awarded to The Beautiful Badge by Martyn Routledge & Elspeth Wills for their visually stunning and comprehensive story of UK football’s club badges. The judges felt the beautiful illustrations brilliantly portrayed the visual heritage of the famous football club crest.  

The Cycling Book of the Year was won by Peter Cossins and his excellent dissection of all things peleton in Full Gas. The Biography of the Year went to Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian for their extraordinary biography of Tiger Woods, taking us through his rise and fall in the most comprehensive account ever managed of the sporting legend. The Sporting Club General Outstanding ​Sports Writing Award went to Berlin 1936 by Oliver Hilmes, for his enthralling portrait of the Berlin Olympics, told through the lens of ordinary Berliners and their stories.

Former Scotland and British and Irish Lion Doddie Weir was a guest of honour, representing the Sports Book Awards official charity partner for 2019, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which exists to raise funds to aid research into the causes of Motor Neuron Disease. Doddie has faced up to the disease with undaunted positivity, using his boundless energy to raise funds for Motor Neuron Disease research and support, and his Foundation has committed more than £2 million to Motor Neuron Disease research since it was launched in November 2017.

The prestigious Sports Book Awards Judging Academy features dozens of esteemed sports men and women, as well as the country’s finest sports writers over several generations. This years judges included Olympic Gold Medal winning Rower Katherine Grainger, Ex-England Rugby player Brian Moore, Ex-England Cricketer and leading broadcaster Bob Willis, Double Olympic Gold Medal winning athlete Christine Ohuruogu and Ex-England Cricketer Darren Gough.

The 17th Sports Book of the Year Awards was sponsored for the first time by The Telegraph, and hosted for the first time by Sky Sports Cricket anchor, David Gower. The awards ceremony was hosted for the 5th year in a row by Lord’s Cricket Ground, once again providing a fitting backdrop for an evening celebrating the greatest sporting stories of the year.

Telegraph Sports Book of the Year
Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Sports Bestseller of 2018
How to be a Footballer by Peter Crouch (Ebury Press)

Autobiography of the Year
The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris (Hodder & Stoughton)

Biography of the Year
Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster)

The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year
Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Cycling Book of the Year
Full Gas by Peter Cossins (Yellow Jersey Press)

Football Book of the Year
Building the Yellow Wall by Uli Hesse (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Red Card by Ken Bensinger (Profile Books)

General Outstanding ​Sports Writing Award
Berlin 1936 by Oliver Hilmes (The Bodley Head)

Getty Images Illustrated Book of the Year
The Beautiful Badge by Martyn Routledge & Elspeth Wills (Pitch Publishing)

Heineken Rugby Book of the Year
Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Sports Health & Fitness Book of the Year
Running Life by Dame Kelly Holmes (Kyle Books)