Jeff Holmes Author
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Jeff Holmes Author
  London, June 1st. Lord's cricket ground, and the giants of the sporting literary world gathered for the 14th staging of the Cross Sports Book Awards. Those present included doyen of sports journalism Brian Glanville, there to receive a lifetime achievement award, and sports stars such as Formula One champ Nigel Mansell, jockey AP McCoy, rugby's Michael Lynagh and Kenny Logan, and former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson.

And of course our very own Marco Negri, the once-prolific Glasgow Rangers striker, and the reason we were in the capital. It was at the end of last year that I first learned of our nomination. A phone call from an excited publisher made sure I realised the enormity of the review committee's decision to shortlist 'Moody Blue' for the International Autobiography of the Year. I was absolutely thrilled.

Fast forward six or so months and my wife Elaine and I were hopping aboard a Virgin tilting train at Glasgow's Central Station - destination London Euston, and a genuine shot at glory.

Four and a half hours later and we were in a London taxi for the short journey to the Danubius Regent's Park Hotel, our base for the next few days, and the length of a cricket pitch from the iconic Lord's ground. When Marco and his family arrived,
the team was complete.

On the Wednesday evening, we all met at the hotel reception for some pics before walking round to Lord's - it was game on!

A sparkling drinks reception preceded the awards ceremony and posh dinner. Marco was interviewed by Sky Sports for their one-hour highlights programme and the company we were keeping resembled a Who's Who of British sport.

It was strictly orange juice for yours truly although one Tour de France legend may regret not showing the same resolve when he later took centre stage.

We duly settled in at table 20 - which was lavishly decorated with the finest china, cut crystal glasses - and freebies! Each guest was given a goody bag with a couple of shortlisted books, expensive pen from sponsors Cross, chocolates etc. It truly
was the poshest do I'd been to in many a year.

Smoked salmon was followed by a cut of tender beef - and then it was time to get down to business. Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn - who had nodded to me at breakfast that morning - was compere for the night, and he was the consummate pro. Reading from a nearby autocue machine, but ad-libbing freely whenever the opportunity arose, he kept everyone amused throughout the evening. And then came the moment...

"The nominations for International Autobiography of the Year are...Commitment, by Didier Drogba; Dan Carter, the autobiography of an All Blacks Legend; Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey, by Mark Webber; Blindsided, by Michael Lynagh; My Fight, Your Fight, by Ronda Rousey; AND, here goes...Moody Blue: The Story of Mysterious Marco, Marco Negri with Jeff Holmes.

"And the winner is....." Cue drum roll, the house falls silent, I so want if to be Marco and I. It's the longest wait imaginable.... "Ronda Rousey, My Fight, You........" and Wedderburn's words drift off into the night...

I feel disappointment. Weeks of building up to the big night, and we have to be content with runner-up. My wife Elaine consoles me by insisting we are winners in her eyes, and that we did so well just to make it onto the final shortlist of six. And do you know what, she is bang on the money - as usual! It was fantastic just to be a part of something so special, and now that I've had a taste of it, I want some more...
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