Monday, 22 December 2008

Sports Book Awards

Crashed and Byrned: the Greatest Racing Driver you Never SawCrashed and Byrned: the Greatest Racing Driver you Never Saw by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year Award for 2008. The book details the story of Tommy Byrne from Dundalk, and his controversial career in motorsport. From a poverty-stricken childhood in Dundalk to becoming the only racing driver that Ayrton Senna ever feared and how it all went wrong when he was so close to the top of world motorsport. Byrne’s tale is one of the great untold stories of Irish sport. He depicts his tough battle to the top and his spectacular fall from grace when, for a brief period, he was arguably the world’s greatest driver. The book goes into every harrowing detail of Tommy’s life from his fame in motorsport, to his drug problems, driving for a billionaire madman and working for gun-toting Mexicans in the 1990s. Sonia: My Story by Sonia O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s best ever athletes, was one of the six shortlisted books for the award. Ronan O’Gara’s story of his glittering career with Ireland and Munster also made the shortlist. Keith Duggan’s depiction of life behind the doors of Mayo football, House of Pain, was also in contention. The shortlist for 2008 was completed by two horse racing books focusing on a couple of Ireland’s most famous and interesting characters, jockey Mick Fitzgerald with his story Better than Sex which was written with Donn McClean, and trainer Mouse Morris who tells his extraordinary tale of life within horseracing. Tony Kenny of William Hill said, “The top six for this year’s award shows how great the competition is. We have stories of success, failure, happiness and heartache and all six are brilliantly written by some excellent sports writers. With a range of books covering five different sports, it highlights that the standard of Irish sports books is getting better every year.”

This is the third year of the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year Award. The inaugural award was won by Paul McGrath with Vincent Hogan for Paul’s autobiography Back from the Brink. Last year’s award was won by Trevor Brennan with Gerry Thornley for Heart and Soul, which documented Trevor’s highs and lows through his rugby career in Ireland and France.This year’s judging panel was made up of eleven of Ireland’s best sports commentators and experts including George Hook, Eamon Dunphy and Matt Cooper. Former England batsman, Marcus Trescothick's autobiography, Coming Back To Me, has won the overall William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for 2008. 'This is only the second autobiography to win the Award' said Hill's spokesman and founder of the prize, Graham Sharpe, 'The judges felt it fearlessly tackled one of the great taboos of elite sport.' The book deals not only with cricketing matters but also most notably and movingly with Trescothick's battle with mental illness which resulted in his withdrawal from the England side - a subject rarely tackled with such outstanding honesty in any autobiography, let alone a sports book. A report in The Observer said that the account of his illness was far more captivating than the account of his cricketing achievements.

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