This review, by Tony Hannan, first appeared in the November 2011 issue of Forty-20 magazine.
For decades young British football fans have had a guaranteed inclusion on their Christmas list: the Shoot Annual. Finally, rugby league has its own.
Attention rugby league fans with dustbin lids! Along with the selection box and lump of coal this year, why not find room in Santa’s stocking for the Official Super League Annual?
Publishers Grange Communications deserve credit for spotting a gap in the market, and they’ve executed it well. This isn’t a serious book for serious people – it’s a lively, entertaining read aimed at boys and girls across the country who love their rugby league as much as the rest of us.
Among the big, bright pictures and snappy interviews are other distractions like a wordsearch, quiz and spot the difference – perfect for keeping the little ones distracted while your mother-in-law complains of wind from the turkey, sprouts and roast potatoes.
Author Neil Barraclough – of Forty-20 and Daily Mail fame – has done a smashing job pitching his material at a younger readership, but there is one glaring absence.
Somehow the annual contains no mention of this year’s Grand Final – we assume that’s down to printing deadlines, but it’s disappointing to see the year’s biggest game missing from an otherwise excellent first effort at what will hopefully become a regular publication.
Interesting interviews with the likes of Jamie Peacock, Steve Menzies and Lee Briers add plenty of star quality, while there are double page spreads on Wigan’s World Club Challenge match-up with St George Illawarra, the England-Exiles fixture and Mickey Rourke’s plans to bring Gareth Thomas’s story to Hollywood.
Even TV celebrity Gethin Jones has been interviewed. So while, at 64 pages, it is far from exhaustive, Barraclough and Grange Communications have done more than enough to make this a worthwhile stocking-filler.
A good first effort – Forty-20 certainly hopes there will be another such annual next year.