Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History (books published in 2015 )

publication date: Nov 30, 2016

The Lord Aberdare Literary Prize is awarded each year by the British Society of Sports History for the best book on any aspect of the history of sport in Britain or for the best book on any aspect of sports history written by a British author.

Using these criteria, Iain Adams, Alison Goodrum and Alexander Jackson (outgoing Chair), judged the winners in the following order:

Winner: Tony Collins, The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby (Bloomsbury)

As this year’s winner, this book was admired for successfully engaging at both an academic and popular level. A genuinely global history, it presents extensive research on the topic in an accessible and well written manner. Its exploration and interlinking of numerous themes across history and geography is deftly handled. It is panoramic in scope, ranging from grassroots to elite level rugby for both men and women.  An ambitious project, it is to the author’s credit that is handled in a manner that makes it accessible and highly recommended to both academic and lay audiences. 

Runner up 1: Dean Allan, Empire, Cricket and War: Logan of Matjiesfontein(Zebra Press)

Highly original in its subject matter, this book has much to offer those interested in sport and Imperial politics. A well-produced and lavishly illustrated book, it illustrates how cricket was used by Douglas Lougan to further his standing within Imperial South Africa and Great Britain. However, the judges felt that the sporting and political material could have been synthesized more effectively, with further references to the wider literature on the role of sport as soft power within Imperialism.

Runner up 2: Half-Time: The Glorious Summer of 1934 (Wisden Sports Writing)

An original focus on leading figures in three sports. Very well written for a wider audience, it none-the-less has something to offer historians of inter-war sports culture. Its lack of wider theoretical underpinning and referencing meant that it did not rank as highly as the other two works. It does though place its subject within a wider historical and political context.