Distinguished judging panel announced for this year’s William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

The most prestigious literary prize in the sporting world has announced its esteemed judging panel. Comprising six highly respected individuals, the distinguished panel will be responsible for selecting the William Hill Sports Book of the Year shortlist and ultimately crowning the Award’s 35th winner.

The Award is one of the most esteemed literary honours in the sporting arena and is the world’s most valuable sports-writing prize. Established in 1989, it recognises and celebrates outstanding writing across a wide range of genres.

Alyson Rudd will lead the panel as Chair for the fifth year running. As an acclaimed award-winning sports journalist at The Times with a deep passion for the written word having overseen the paper’s Book Group, a qualified football coach and referee, and author of two sports books and two novels, Alyson’s extensive experience in the field makes her an ideal choice to guide the panel in their quest to identify the finest sports book of the year.

Joining Alyson on the panel are five renowned personalities, each bringing their unique expertise and perspective to the selection process:

Dame Heather Rabbatts will make her inaugural appearance on the panel this year. She is renowned for her groundbreaking accomplishments in the field of sports administration and broadcasting, and her commitment to diversity and inclusivity has been widely recognised. As the first woman to hold the position of Director of the Football Association, she has been instrumental in driving positive change within the industry. Her profound understanding of the sports landscape, and dedication to excellence will provide valuable support to the other judges in their deliberations.

Also joining the panel for the first time is Elis James. As a prominent sports podcaster, presenter and comedian, Elis infuses humour and wit into his analysis of various sports. His ability to engage and entertain audiences will undoubtedly give a refreshing perspective to the judging panel.

Michelle Walder has re-joined the judging panel for a second year. As a Brighton and Hove Albion FC non-executive board member and chair of Brighton & Hove Albion Women’s FC, Michelle has a wealth of experience in the sporting industry, alongside running her own business specialising in leadership and coaching since 2004.

Accomplished broadcaster, writer and journalist Mark Lawson also joins the panel once again. As a critic and feature writer for The Guardian and theatre critic of The Tablet, Mark has a profound appreciation for the art of storytelling. He was the first presenter of Radio 4’s Front Row and has written six books. In 2006, he described becoming a William Hill Sports Book of the Year judge as one of his greatest ambitions in sport.

Former professional footballer-turned-broadcaster Clarke Carlisle brings his unique perspective as an athlete and commentator to the judging panel. His football career spanned almost two decades and all four top-flight divisions, and as a regular ITV football pundit and co-commentator, his deep understanding of the inner workings of the sporting world will provide valuable insight during the selection process. Clarke is also no stranger to the Award with his first appearance as a judge back in 2012 but stood down in 2013 to write his autobiography A Footballer’s Life, which reached the 2014 longlist.

Following a rigorous process which reviews all entries to produce a longlist, the judging panel will evaluate each one to reveal the Award shortlist. Finally, the panel will crown the overall winner of the 35th William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, at an official award ceremony on 30th November at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London, ensuring that only the most exceptional sports book receives this prestigious accolade.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Alyson Rudd, said: “I am truly honoured to serve as Chair of Judging for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award once again. The Award celebrates the power of storytelling and, whilst sport is a huge field, entries are quite intimate and stories very personal.

“The Award has a long-standing tradition of celebrating first-class sports writing and I’m excited to be leading our new and diverse judging panel as we preside over exceptional stories and the authors who bring these tales to life.”

The longlist will be revealed on 28th September, with the shortlist being announced on 26th October. The winner will be declared on 30th November and will receive a cash prize of £30,000. All shortlisted authors will each receive £3,000 and a specially produced leather-bound copy of their book.

Last year, Jeremy Wilson’s book, Beryl: In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete, Beryl Burton, scooped the 2022 Award.

For more information about the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, please visit:

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