When I first moved to London there was a bookshop, set back from Charing Cross Road opposite the grease fest that was Chicago Meat Packers. It was packed to the rafters with sports books, not just the biographies of footballers recalling their brief careers, but many about obscure stars of niche sports and cheaply printed football fanzines from all over the country.
When it closed, I thought the championing of sportswriting would be lost, but owner John Gaustad had just helped start, with the support of William Hill, the Annual Sports Book of the Year Award.
Now in its twenty-seventh year, the annual list is a perfect collection of the best explorations into the political and social areas of our favourite leisure pursuits.
The winners are being announced tonight: Donald McRae’s biography of the boxer Emile Griffith is favourite but the six books on the shortlist are all strong contenders.
By Rob Greig