Former Nottingham Evening Post sports editor Duncan Hamilton has lifted the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year gong for his warts-and-all tale of his time with Brian Clough.
Provided You Don’t Kiss Me has scooped the most valuable prize of its type in the world.
Duncan, now deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post, had a 20-year working relationship with the football manager widely recognised as the best of his kind.
He held off the challenge from the other five shortlisted books to pick up the award, which consists of £18,000 cash, a £2,000 free bet from the sponsors and a specially commissioned, hand-bound copy of his book.
Duncan was the Forest writer at the Nottingham paper during the team’s glory years, and ghosted “Cloughie’s column” to give Brian a reader-friendly voice.
Provided You Don’t Kiss Me charts the highs and lows of Clough’s turbulent career at Nottingham Forest through the eyes of the man who was there to see it all.
As a former football reporter, Hamilton had access to every aspect of the club and its master manager and paints an intimate portrait which covers Clough’s relationship with Peter Taylor, the double European Cup triumph, the famed 44 days at Leeds and the crumbling of his career in the 80s.
Read our review on Provided You Don’t Kiss Me by clicking on the link.
Duncan’s friends and colleagues had often suggested he should write a book on his years with the Forest legend, but he felt he had been too close to it all and could not see why people might be interested.
He had given up covering football to take on an executive role at the Post and had put all his notes away in the loft.
“I got to the point where I thought sport was a trivial thing and I wasn’t keen on the way it was going with the Premiership glamour,” he said.
But he was inspired to write by the reaction to a new play about Clough and decided to set pen to paper “for the historical record”.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: “The judges were as close to unanimous in their decision as any panel is ever likely to be.
“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.”
The judging panel comprised writer Paul Hayward; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster and writer Danny Kelly; writer Hugh McIlvanney and sports writer Alyson Rudd. The panel chairman was John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages Bookshop.
John Inverdale said in his Daily Telegraph column after the judging: “This year’s shortlist of six books is probably the best in the decade that I’ve been connected with the award
“At half past eight we all offered a brief summation on how we assessed the relative merits of the contenders, and at 29 minutes to nine, we had decided on the winner.
“As debates go, it was about as rewarding as an uncontested scrum. What it does mean, though, is that if you are a sports fan, there is one book this year that is so brilliant, you will simply have to have it on your Christmas list.”
Click through to the Yorkshire Post’s audio interview with Duncan.
The other short-listed titles were: