FEATURE: Five Wigan rugby league books

Pint Size: Andy Gregory - Heroes and Hangovers

Pint Size: Andy Gregory - Heroes and Hangovers

Often described as the world’s most famous rugby league club, tales of glory litter Wigan’s past.

Andy Gregory was a central figure in Wigan’s 1987 World Club Challenge victory over Manly. His autobiography, Pint Size: Andy Gregory – Heroes and Hangovers, goes through a roller-coaster career with brutal honesty.

Seven years on from one of Gregory’s finest moments, Jason Robinson was scoring Wigan’s third try in their 1994 World Club Challenge win in Brisbane.

Robinson went on to become a cross-code legend, playing in a rugby league World Cup final as well as scoring England’s only try in their 2003 rugby union World Cup final triumph. Jason Robinson: Finding My Feet earned rave reviews at the time of its publication and still remains a fascinating read.

Simply Rad, by Kris Radlinski

Simply Rad, by Kris Radlinski

Simply Rad: The Kris Radlinski Story is an equally interesting read on one of Super League’s finest players.

Radlinski’s heroics in the 2002 Challenge Cup final are etched in rugby league folklore, and his contribution to Wigan – both as a player, and now as the club’s general rugby manager – has been simply outstanding.

Radlinski’s book was among the top 10 rugby league books of 2010, along with Ewan Phillips’ work The Wigan Warriors Miscellany.

And finally, Graham Morris’ Wigan Rugby League Football Club: 100 Greats is sure to bring back the memories for Wigan fans young and old.

REVIEW: Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story, by Phil Holmes Jr and Phil Holmes Snr

Reluctant Hero - The John Holmes Story

Read our two part interview with Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of ‘Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story‘, by clicking here and here.

Anybody searching for a rugby league book that combines emotion, nostalgia and dignity can stop looking now.

Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story charts the career of one of England’s finest ever rugby league players.

That it brings to life so well a man who was regarded as quiet and unassuming is testament to the quality and hard work put in by Holmes’ nehpew and brother. [Read more…]

FEATURE: Five Bradford rugby league books

Iestyn Harris - There And Back

Iestyn Harris - There And Back

Bradford Bulls – or Bradford Northern, for readers of a certain age – is one of the most famous clubs in British rugby league.

Some of the game’s greatest players, including the likes of Ellery Hanley, have worn the red, white and black with distinction.

Two modern day Bulls have written autobiographies that are bound to be of interest for both Bradford fans and rugby league aficionados with a wider interest.

Iestyn Harris never reached his previous rugby league heights when he returned to Odsal from Welsh rugby union. Harris had been a superstar during his early years at Warrington and Leeds, and Bulls fans had big hopes for the talented stand-off.

But Harris’ timing was unfortunate, joining the club at the start of its recent decline. Nevertheless, while at the Bulls he won the Super League Grand Final in 2005, the World Club Challenge in 2006, and remained one of Bradford’s most reliable performers even when the efforts of his team-mates were not on the same level. His book, Iestyn Harris: There and Back, charts his cross-code career in revealing detail.

Odsal Odysseys - The History of Bradford Rugby League

Odsal Odysseys - The History of Bradford Rugby League

Terry Newton played alongside Harris at the Bulls. His book, Coming Clean, details his own career and subsequent fall from grace when he tested positive for human Growth Hormone (hGH) during his time at Wakefield. (See our full review of Coming Clean here.)

There’s also plenty out there for those looking for some Bradford nostalgia. Bradford Rugby League (Archive Photographs: Images of Sport) is 128 pages’ worth of fascinating photography, while Odsal Odysseys: The History of Bradford Rugby League brings the club’s history to life.

And no Bradford history would be complete without mention of Trevor Foster, arguably the club’s greatest ever servant. Trevor Foster: The Life of a Rugby League Legend would be a welcome addition to any rugby league bookshelf.

INTERVIEW: Welsh rugby league author Ian Golden predicts bright future

A Welsh Crusade: Building Rugby League in Wales 1990-2009

Welsh rugby league author Ian Golden has predicted a bright future for the sport as all 14 Engage Super League teams head to Cardiff for Millennium Magic.

Golden, whose book A Welsh Crusade: Building Rugby League in Wales 1990-2009 was released just over a year ago, believes rugby league can look forward to increasing Welsh participation figures and on-field progress over the coming decade.

Golden told Rugby League Books: “We actually now have a full pathway for players, both junior and senior, and the number of rugby league matches in Wales will this year go well into the hundreds.

“Twenty years ago I think there was Aberavon amateur club and a few student sides.

“Now, we’ve got Crusaders fixtures at U15s, U16s and U18s along with two Welsh sides in the U18 National Youth League, the Welsh Conference, and Valley Cougars up in the National Conference, meaning players have got a level between the Welsh Conference and the South Wales Scorpions.”

He continued: “We’ve also got 150 schools sides in the Carnegie Champion Schools tournament and that figure is increasing every year.

“The more players that get involved, the more we’ve got to pick from and the more Welsh stars we’ll see coming through.”

Devotion

A Welsh Crusade: Building Rugby League in Wales 1990-2009 was the product of Golden’s own devotion to the 13-man code.

“I first thought about writing it a couple of years ago when I was watching a Wales football match at the Millennium Stadium.

“Putting the book together was good fun. I did a lot of research during the off-season and a lot of writing when I was on the coach going on long away trips with the Crusaders when they were still based in Bridgend (Golden worked as the Crusaders’ media officer until the club’s relocation to Wrexham).”

He added: “I made a few trips to libraries, gathered some material from the books and DVDs I already owned and one of the real pleasures was getting to interview David Watkins at his home as part of the research.”

Structure

Golden admits he approached the book in a methodical way.

He said: “It was a very big task, but I did it in a structured way by breaking it down into chunks.

“I knew I had a certain word-count for the book to reach, so I worked out the chapters first and then put appropriate word counts for each chapter that made sure I hit the overall word-count.”

Golden’s first live rugby league match was the 1990 Charity Shield when Wigan met Widnes at The Vetch Field in Swansea.

His next, Wales versus Papua New Guinea, came more than a year later. But one of Welsh rugby league’s unsung heroes certainly won’t be struggling for live action any time soon.

FEATURE: Five Warrington rugby league books

Brian Bevan statue at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium

Welcome to a new regular feature on Rugby League Books.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working our way through rugby league’s major clubs to produce lists of books that might interest the club’s fans.

The lists aren’t necessarily a ‘Top Five’ – just five books that will appeal to a particular club’s supporters.

This week, we’re starting with Warrington Wolves.

Biting Back: The Mike Gregory Story, by Mike Gregory, Erica Gregory, Steve Manning and Dave Hadfield

First up is Biting Back: The Mike Gregory Story, by Mike Gregory, Erica Gregory, Steve Manning and Dave Hadfield. Gregory was a Warrington hero and a rugby league great. His bravery and courage was immense, both on the field and later in life as he battled his illness.

Andrew Johns only played three games for Warrington, but his impact was almost unbelievable. His arrival at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in late 2005 generated headlines and media interest across the globe. His autobiography, Andrew Johns: The Two of Me, is an equally gripping read.

Another charismatic figure associated with Warrington is Alex Murphy OBE. His autobiography is nearly 11 years old, but Saint and Sinner: The Autobiography of a Rugby League Legend is still of interest to the generations who grew up watching Murphy’s magical skills.

Finally, two recommendations for Warrington history buffs. So Close to Glory: Warrington Rugby League Football Club 1919 to 1939, and Warrington Rugby League, 1970-2000, detail some fascinating years in the Wolves’ story.

Happy reading!

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Caza_No_7

Club-by-club rugby league book guide

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be producing a series of posts that feature five books of interest to fans of specific clubs.

The aim is to highlight some forgotten treasures.

You might also get some gift ideas, too.

As ever, your feedback is hugely important.

Who do you support, and what’s your favourite rugby league book?

Let us know in the comments below.