Duncan Hamilton’s account of his years working on a local newspaper, covering the goings on at Nottingham Forest under manager Brian Clough, Provided You Don’t Kiss Me, was declared the winner of the 2007 William Hill Sports Book of the Year at a ceremony in central London this afternoon.
It was a timely award, coming on the day when Derby County sacked their manager, Billy Davies, after a dispute with his club chairman (sound familiar?), and while choosing the right man to manage the England team – the job that was denied Clough throughout his mercurial career – is again the hot sporting topic.
Hamilton, now deputy editor at the Yorkshire Post, receives an Â£18,000 first prize, plus a Â£2,000 bet with the sponsors, after seeing off challenges from a typically eclectic shortlist for the “Bookies’ Prize” that also included the first volume of Sir Bobby Charlton’s biography and a defining account of golf pioneers Young and Old Tom Morris.
“This was perhaps the strongest shortlist ever assembled for the award and is proof of the success of the prize in encouraging publishers to commission high quality writing as well as the block-buster ‘kiss and tell’ titles,” said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.
“For many years, Hamilton covered Nottingham Forest for the Nottingham Evening Post, which meant that he did enjoy more than just a passing acquaintanceship with one of the greatest, and most eccentric, football managers of all time. Hamilton and Clough became friends (or maybe it was almost a father-son relationship), so when the journalist was persuaded to write a book about the manager, the result, Provided You Donâ€™t Kiss Me is a vivid, often painful memoir of Cloughâ€™s triumphs and subsequent decline into the dark pit of alcoholism,” Anton Rippon wrote in his review for the SJA website back in May.
The pair meet for the first time on a late winterâ€™s afternoon in February 1977, in Cloughâ€™s dowdy office at the City Ground, when Hamilton is working for a short-lived local newspaper, Nottingham Sport. The 18-year-old reporter is wearing his only suit (â€œa pale grey check with matching waistcoat, and lapels as wide as angelâ€™s wingsâ€) and carries a brand-new notebook, three pens (â€œin case two brokeâ€) and the list of questions heâ€™d typed up on his motherâ€™s kitchen table using the Imperial typewriter that sheâ€™d bought for him on weekly hire-purchase from the Empire Stores catalogue.
According to John Inverdale, one of the judges, in announcing the winner at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, where the presentations were made, the book was the unanimous choice of the panel, which came to its decision in record time.
Read Inverdale’s account of this year’s judging process by clicking here.
The judging panel for the award was the Daily Mail‘s Paul Hayward, BBC broadcaster Inverdale, broadcaster Danny Kelly, Hugh McIlvanney, of the Sunday Times, and sportswriter Alyson Rudd. The panel chairman was John Gaustad, who used to run the Sportspages Bookshop.
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