Thank you from Rugby League Books

First of all, a big thanks to everyone for a great response so far to Rugby League Books.

It’s only three weeks since we launched but we’ve been staggered by your kind words, either in private or on Twitter.

We’ve got plenty of plans to keep the site fresh and interesting over the coming weeks and months, including a series of club specific posts that will be starting soon.

In the meantime, you can join us on Facebook to receive updates and help spread the word. Alternatively, sign up for our free email updates by filling in the box in the top right corner of the page.

And if you’ve anything you’d love to see on the site, just drop us a line or contact us on Twitter.

Happy reading!

INTERVIEW: John Holmes’ nephew, Phil Jr, remembers a rugby league great

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story. Here he talks about John’s remarkable talents. You can read part one of this interview by clicking here.

Reluctant Hero - The John Holmes Story

John Holmes was always known as a special talent on the field, and a quiet guy off it.

A Leeds hero of the 70s and 80s, most South Standers regard Holmes as a magician – a master craftsman with the ball in his hands.

Holmes’ nephew, Phil Jr, told Rugby League Books: “His first wife, Jenny, and his second wife, Karen, were telling him he was special and that he needed to celebrate that.

“Towards the end he did, but John just found the game of rugby league very easy.”

He continued: “John grew up playing against his two brothers. One was four years older than him, and the other was eight years older than him.

“When he turned professional there were guys coming to take his head off, but he was used to it because ‘our kid’ had been doing it all his life. I don’t think he really knew how difficult other people found the game. [Read more…]

NEWS: Jeff Grayshon biography set for release

Publishers Vertical Editions have confirmed plans to release The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE in March 2011.

Rugby league author Maurice Bamford has produced the biography of Grayshon, a former Dewsbury, Bradford, Leeds, Featherstone and Great Britain forward.

It will be Vertical Editions’ second rugby league release of 2011, coming on the same day as 20 Legends: Castleford Rugby League is also due to hit the shops.

Grayshon famously played professional rugby league beyond his 45th birthday. He went on to make the switch into coaching, before resigning as Batley boss in July 1996.

During an illustrious career, Grayshon earned 13 GB caps and enjoyed a brief spell with Sydney club Cronulla.

He won back-to-back titles with Bradford, having earlier been a young star in Dewsbury’s famous 1973 Championship Final victory against Leeds.

When he did finally hang up his boots, Grayshon had accumulated 776 professional appearances – putting him fourth on the sport’s all time list behind only Jim Sullivan, Gus Risman and Neil Fox.

As ever, Rugby League Books will be among the first to review The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE.

REVIEW: The Rugby League Miscellany, by David Lawrenson

The Rugby League Miscellany

The Rugby League Miscellany

Bored of reading the same old books? The Rugby League Miscellany sees author David Lawrenson highlight some of rugby league’s finest moments in entertaining style.

One particularly revealing section details the bravery of rugby league’s unassuming players.

Remember Roger Millward playing 67 minutes of the 1980 Challenge Cup Final with a broken jaw? Or Shaun Edwards managing more than an hour in the 1990 Challenge Cup Final with a double fracture of an eye socket and a depressed cheekbone? [Read more…]

INTERVIEW: Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of ‘Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story’, on writing a tribute to a Leeds hero

Reluctant Hero - The John Holmes Story

This is the first of a two-part interview with Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story. Here he talks about gathering material for a book about a man who meant so much, to so many.

Few in rugby league are held in as high regard as John Holmes.

At Leeds, nobody is.

So when Holmes’ nephew, Phil junior, decided with his father, Phil senior, to take on the task of producing Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story, they realised the challenge they were undertaking.

“One of the reasons behind the book was John being so quiet,” Phil Jr told Rugby League Books. “There were things my dad was finding out through John’s team-mates, there were things John’s team-mates were finding out through my dad, and there were even things John’s Great Britain team-mates were finding out from his Leeds team-mates, and vice-versa.

“He kept himself to himself, but he had an absolutely massive bond with the guys he played with.” [Read more…]

REVIEW: Border City Blues, by Alan Tucker

Border City Blues: The Story of Carlisle Rugby League, by Alan Tucker

Border City Blues: The Story of Carlisle Rugby League, by Alan Tucker

Alan Tucker’s book Border City Blues will go down as the definitive history of Carlisle rugby league.

Tucker writes with authority, having served as Carlisle’s chairman, and the result is a book packed with memories and insight that would otherwise have been lost in time.

From the enormous to the trivial, the challenges Carlisle rugby league faced are laid bare for all to see.

On top of that, every campaign is recorded, starting from 1981-82 through to the 1997 summer season, and Tucker brings the statistics to life with some of the tales he recalls in absorbing detail. [Read more…]

NEWS: Scratching Shed confirms plans for four new rugby league books

From Hull to Hell and Back

From Hull to Hell and Back, by Lee Crooks and Vince Groak, is one of four new rugby league books set to be released by Scratching Shed Publishing during 2011

Lee Crooks’ autobiography is one of four new rugby league books Scratching Shed Publishing is planning for 2011, the company has revealed.

The independent publishers – who have already produced 24 titles in little more than two years – are also hoping to secure further rugby league titles for the coming 12 months.

Crooks’ book, titled From Hull to Hell and Back, is being ghostwritten by Vince Groak and will look back at the former Hull, Leeds, Castleford and Great Britain forward’s illustrious career.

Bev Risman’s Both Sides Of The Fence is also set to be released soon, along with Phil Caplan’s ‘History of Schools Rugby League’ and a further, as yet unspecified, reprint of a rugby league classic.

Rugby League Books will be among the first to review each of the titles and speak to the people involved. Keep your eyes peeled.

REVIEW: Longy: Booze, Brawls, Sex and Scandal, by Sean Long and Nick Appleyard

Longy: Booze Brawls Sex and Scandal, by Sean Long and Nick Appleyard

Longy: Booze Brawls Sex and Scandal, by Sean Long and Nick Appleyard

Sean Long has done it all.

Record-breaking treble Lance Todd Trophy winner? Tick. Last-minute Grand Final-winning drop goals? Tick. National hero when Great Britain won in Sydney in 2006? Tick.

There’s been the daft stuff, too: a three-month ban for betting on St Helens to lose at Bradford, the end of his international career when he walked out on that 2006 Tri-Nations tour, and more silly haircuts than any of us can remember.

Longy: Booze, Brawls, Sex and Scandal covers the whole lot.

And the result is a book that is just as lively as Long’s career. [Read more…]

NEWS: “Talking points” promised in new Castleford rugby league legends book

20 Legends: Castleford Rugby League

Phil Hodgson's latest book, '20 Legends: Castleford Rugby League', is due out in March 2011

Rugby league author and journalist Phil Hodgson admits he won’t please everybody with his new book 20 Legends: Castleford Rugby League.

Hodgson told Rugby League Books: “Picking out 20 of Castleford’s finest ever players was a difficult task. I’m sure there’ll be a couple of talking points about who I’ve selected and who’s not in there.”

The new release is scheduled to hit British bookshops on March 12, 20111.

It will be Hodgson’s fourth title with publishers Vertical Editions, following on from Headingley Heroes, Odsal Odysseys: The History of Bradford Rugby League and High Ambitions.

“The idea came from Karl Waddicor at Vertical, but it’s just the type of book I enjoy doing,” said Hodgson. “I like doing a bit of research, pottering away in the library and pulling things together.

“I live near Castleford and they’re a well-known club throughout rugby league who’ve had plenty of fine players over the years. It was just a case of rooting through old records, newspapers and talking to players. I spoke to a lot of people who have been involved with the club for a long time, and that really gave me something to go on.”

Now Hodgson is eagerly awaiting his first glimpse of the finished product.

He said: “The final manuscript went in December. I’m looking forward to reading it because there’s a lot in there I’ll have forgotten about by the time it comes out!”

20 Legends: Castleford Rugby League’, by Phil Hodgson, is released on March 12, 2011. ISBN 978-1904091400, published by Vertical Editions. It is available to order here.

NEWS: Rugby League Books launched today


Welcome to Rugby League Books. We’ll keep this short, so you can get on with the good stuff instead.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, we intend to evolve into your number one destination for news on rugby league books.

We’ve already got plenty for you to sink your teeth into: an interview with Ray French MBE, the top 10 rugby league books of 2010 and a growing library of reviews that we hope will eventually become the most comprehensive on the net. [Read more…]