Two football titles have made this year’s Shortlist, with Beryl by Jeremy Wilson looking at the life of cycling champions Beryl Burton, God is Dead by Andy McGrath capturing the chaotic life of cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke and the story of athlete Anyika Onuora, My Hidden Race making up the five book Shortlist.
Here’s a look at the two football titles.
Expected Goals: The Story of how Data Conquered Football and Changed the Game Forever by Rory Smith
Football has always measured success by what you win, but only in the last twenty years have clubs started to think about how you win. Data has now suffused almost every aspect of how football is played, coached, scouted and consumed. But it’s not the algorithms or new metrics that have made this change, it’s the people behind them.
This is the story of modern football’s great data revolution and the group of curious, entrepreneurial personalities who zealously believed in its potential to transform the game. Central to this cast is Chris Anderson, an academic with no experience in football, who saw data as an opportunity to fundamentally change a sport that did not think it could be changed. His aim: to infiltrate the strange, insular world of professional football by establishing a club whose entire DNA could be built around data.
Expected Goals charts his remarkable journey into the heart of the modern game and reveals how clubs across the world, from Liverpool to Leipzig and Brentford to Bayern Munich, began to see how data could help them unearth new players, define radical tactics and plot their path to glory.
(Publisher: Mudlark. September 2022. Hardcover: 304 pages)
Buy the book here: Expected Goals
Be Good, Love Brian: Growing Up with Brian Clough by Craig Bromfield
Craig Bromfield was just 13 years old when Brian Clough, on a whim, took him and his older brother Aaron in.
They came from Southwick, a depressed area of Sunderland, where they lived with their abusive stepfather, and from where they longed to escape. After initially meeting Clough while out begging for money, Clough later invited the brothers to stay at his house. From there a relationship formed which would see Craig living with the Cloughs for nine years, where he was a first-hand witness to the many aspects of Clough’s character – his gruffness, his humour, his big-heartedness.
This is a beautiful, inspirational story, which has never before been told, about Clough’s gentleness and capacity for generosity. Discover a very different side to this iconic man, one away from the cameras and the football, which shows him for the person he really was.
(Publisher: Mudlark. November 2021 Hardcover: 336 pages)
Buy the book here: Be Good, Love Brian