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McIlvanney left Kilmarnock Academy to work at The Kilmarnock Standard as a reporter moving on to the Scottish Daily Express, The Scotsman, The Observer, Daily Express, before joining The Sunday Times in 1993. During his time with the Daily Express he also wrote as a news reporter.
In 1996, McIlvanney was awarded the OBE, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award 2004 by The Scottish Press Awards, and is the only sports writer to be voted Journalist of the Year. In 2005, he was included in the Press Gazette Hall of Fame.
- McIlvanney On Boxing (1982), ISBN 1-84018-005-6
- McIlvanney On Football (1994), ISBN 1-84018-007-2
- McIlvanney On Horseracing (1995 co-written with Peter O'Sullevan), ISBN 1-84018-006-4
- Managing My Life (1999 (co-written with Alex Ferguson), ISBN 978-0-340-72856-7
- "Hugh McIlvanney (b. 1934)". Kilmarnock Academy. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Hugh McIlvanney: A giant among sporting greats". The Independent. 5 December 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Hugh McIlvanney". International Boxing Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- "Lewis, others to be inducted into Hall of Fame". ESPN. Associated Press. 9 December 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- Hugh McIlvanney remains the matchless Master Sports Journalists' Association, 14 October 2011
- Hugh McIlvanney at the Internet Movie Database
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