The William Hill Sports Book of the Year
Sponsored by William Hill, each year the winning author of Sports Book of the Year is presented with a money prize, a William Hill betting voucher and a designed binding. Since 1992 I have read the six shortlisted books to have some idea of a design for each one because there is only a week to design and create the binding once the judges have made their decision.



'Doped' 2013 by Jamie Reid

The real life story of the 1960s racehorse doping gang.

'The Secret Race' by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle 2012

The sub-title reads ‘Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs’.

I usually try to put together a design around a suitable structure, cycling is a good sport for this as a mechanical device is at its centre. A diagram relating to ‘chain tensioning’ set my thoughts in motion, the very notion of tension seemed appropriate in this closedworld of pressure to succeed. The concept of enclosed circles and worlds also allowed for a reference to wheels and motion, people caught up in the gear changes of this murky underworld. The dyeing of the skin added a further clouded backdrop to the drama being played out, the wavering tracking lines hint at the insecurity which underlies deceit.

The two raised circles are craquelle calf. The raised area in red in the front circle gave me a chance to provide added drama, a tangled web of lines allude to the possibility of figures caught up in a mechanism out of control.

The spine is covered in Brazilian goatskin with recessed discs of Nigerian goatskin, lettered with the title and authors in black. The sides are covered in tie- dyed pigskin. Edges are coloured and transfer printed, leather covered endbands.

'A Life Too Short by'
by Ronald Reng
Like the book on Trescothic this deals with depression and in this case suicide. Enke's classic goalkeeping stances provide a visual link to the ball in the back of the net, symbolizing the darkest moments.
'Beware of the Dog'
by Brian Moore

A book about rugby and about a life ruled by the dual sides of the author’s character, positive, mirrored by powerful negative thoughts and likened to Gollum in Lord of the Rings.  I used the form of the player, onlaid in both dark and light leathers and vellum framed on each board within the two halves of the oval ball.  I was struck by the strategy diagrams in the rugby books I found in the library, they reminded me of choreography and the music scores of modern composers, I needed only to add the music staves to the diagrams, and title in light and dark.  

 ‘Harold Larwood’
by Duncan Hamilton

The controversial and aggressive ‘bodyline’ bowling technique The images of the ball indicate both new and well-used balls and from my leather stocks with Harmatan goat on the front board with stitching copied from an old cricket ball. The spine is Brazilian goat and the sides are the reverse, figurative elements are pigskin onlays, deliberately left in shallow relief to emphasise the the bowler coming at the wicket.

'Coming Back to Me'
by Marcus Trescothick
The basic tenor of this winning book was the experience of the author leaving home and the depression caused when he was away from his wife and family.  I chose the cricket face guard as a metaphor for his psychological prison, behind which is mental chaos.  Linking the two main elements are tenuous brain waves, which, via the cricket ball resolve the design.
'Provided You Dont Kiss Me'
by Duncan Hamilton
‘Provided You Don’t Kiss Me’ is an autobiography of Brian Clough, an up-front, foul mouthed individual who was not only a gift to the media but also a great football manager and tactical genius  My instinctive visual interpretation placed him on the green football field as Hamlet – he also had a huge role with power behind the words. The connection with the Black Prince resulted in a silhouetted figure created with pva and leather dust, giving two fingers to the world. His bad language is on the ticker-tape strip, inspired by Sky Sports, across the bottom of the ‘screen’, hand tooled complete with blanks.
 'Unforgivable Blackness'
by Geoffrey C Ward

Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion in history. A silhouette in white with a solid black overlay on the front board and a varnished figure on the back are all taken from a contemporary photograph of the champion who was hated in his native USA due to his success in the boxing ring.

'My Father and Other Working Class Heroes'
Gary Imlach
Dealing with this design was a nostalgia trip for me too.  Again my dad’s  cigarette cards hint at figuration and are veined and grey to highlight the ordinariness and non-superstar status of the footballers of the time. The stitching on the old leather footballs another element of abstraction, what my visual imagery is about. The backdrop behind gives the veining a red element, the passion of the game - regardless of the lack of superstardom and vast monetary gain of the modern game.


'Basil D'Olivera' 
Peter OBorne
A man vilified by the England cricket board which would not allow a black man to play in South Africa. He was born a South African and isolated by his country.  Stumps and bales frame the book and dominate the view of life, looking through to green suede with busy free-form sumi marbling indicating the action surrounding the D’Olivera situation. The figurative element links to South Africa which leather turkey stomach perfectly replicating the features of dried-up earth, white edging hints at those apartheid restrictions.  
'Broken Dreams'
Tom Bower

An experienced investigative journalist, Bower takes on the football giants to expose the money, politics and vicious battles off the pitch. My challenge was to visualise the corruption of the 'beautiful game'.  The book is covered in green Brazilian leather and after the inspirational tin of baked beans for lunch I combined my study of pitch markings with a bar code which -the icon which reduces anything and everything to what it costs.  It is worked across the field of play from goal to goal. On the front board it is overlaid by the realisation of the romantic dream of the game and the world. 

'In Black & White'
Donald McRae
In the summer of 1935 Joe Louis & Jesse Owens emerged as the first black stars of sport.  Idolised across the world, they were two young men at the pinnacle of their careers who overcame prejudice and fear to achieve their goals.  Two inverted triangles dominate the design, within the front is a single figurative rising form, within the rear two forms.  White leather is overpainted with black free-form suminagashi marbled  frames the coloured panels.   
by Laura Hillenbrand

Myerbridge’s images, scientific, mechanical observations of the movement of the horse are presented as a backdrop to the representation of the spirit of the horse, each moving in opposite directions and creating the nature of a spirit which eclipses everything.  The figure of the horse begins with the head in relief on the front board which then fragments into feathered onlays of red and black leather on the back.

'It's Not About the Bike'
Lance Armstrong

The bike wheel on the front board is overlaid with a rising image in suminagashi marbling, indicating mans’ growth and success, the overcoming of life’s difficulty and the battle to achieve one’s ambitions. The sumi is offset printed onto suede which is mounted on a relief panel which increases in depth towards the top edge of the book. A horizontal life-line traverses across each board and onto the turn-in at the back edge. A raised circular disc on the spine is hand tooled with the title.

'Angry White Pyjamas'
Robert Twigger
'A Lot of Hard Yakka'
Simon Hughes
An inside story of county cricket and the men who play it for a living  - not a catalogue of statistics but a book about the people.  My father’s collection of cigarette cards inspired this design with eleven recessed panels made from inlays of part-pared white sheepskin, previously decorated with the ‘cracquelle’ technique and placed across both boards against a green leather background which I tooled with the outline of English counties. Simon Hughes felt himself the odd man out, a theme reflected by placing one of the forms apart from the rest and separated by a recessed ball with a convex surface onlaid with dark red leather.  
'Dark Trade'
by Donald McRae




Reading the interview with Mike Tyson made an immediate connection for me with the last scene of Don Giovanni in the opera I had just seen.  Each powerfully presented a massive presence, a black shadow which overwhelms all.  The resulting binding design is dissected horizontally by five lines – the boxing ring’s ropes and a reference to the five raised bands on the spine of a traditional leather binding.  These red strips are inlaid and made up of red and black leathers.  On the front board hand-made paper pulp fills the lower four sections, the threatening form created with black emulsified leather dust shadowed by darker grey paper pulp

'A Good Walk Spoiled'
by John Feinstein


This book follows the PGA golf championship, a year-round high profile sport with virtually no off-season.  Feinstein concentrates on the players who compete to stay on the ‘money list’, with no wages and only winnings, if any to live on.  The transfer printed, natural leather title disc on the spine hints at the globe, on each board recessed panels with leather inlays and onlays in strident greens with bunkers and roughs replicate the visual characteristics of the golf courses. One panel on the back board has an inlaid white mapping pin with two ball paths running from either side and across to the edge of front and back boards.

 ‘Football Against The Enemy’
by Simon Kuper

This winner was about the horrific side of football the violence and politics on & off the pitch.  Sellars interpretation of this world of football is a celebration of this awful stuff and his immediate reaction having read the book was the memory of  a glob of pva adhesive saved from a spill on the workbench which had mixed with red dye.  Combined with a raised disc on the back board this creates a powerful response to the themes of the text.

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