Christmas guide to rugby league books in 2013

Looking for a rugby league gift this Christmas? Here’s our list of the books released over the last 12 months…


rlyearbook2013Rugby League Yearbook 2013, by Tim Butcher and Daniel Spencer

Darren Lockyer – Autobiography, by Darren Lockyer and Dan Koch

Off The Cuff: The Lee Briers Autobiography, by Lee Briers and Mike Appleton

Rugby League: A Critical History 1980 – 2013, by Richard De La Riviere

The Official Super League Annual 2014, by Neil Barraclough

leebriersThrough Adversity: The Fight For Rugby League In The RAF, by Damian Clayton

Learning Curve: The Story Of Student Rugby League, by Dave Hadfield

Big Jim: Jim Mills – A Rugby Giant, by Peter Lush and Maurice Bamford (Kindle edition available here)

Soldiers’ League: The Story Of Army Rugby League, by Sean Fanning (Kindle edition available here)

They Walked On Water: The Untold Story Of Wembley 1968, by David Hinchliffe

slannual2014No Helmets Required: The Remarkable Story Of The American All Stars, by Gavin Willacy (Kindle edition available here)

Heading For The Line, by Michael Miles (Kindle edition available here)

Rugby League In The Seventies, by Harry Edgar

Making Up The Numbers: The Clubs That Hoped To Be Giant Killers, by Stuart Sheard

Rugby League Back o’ t’ Wall – A History of Sharlston Rovers ARLFC, by Graham Chalkley



Broken Time: The Complete Script, by Mick Martin

Two Seasons, by Geoff Lee (Kindle edition available here)

Rugby Football: A United Game, by Peter Lush (Kindle edition available here)

What’s A Bear To Wear, by Tom Palmer

Haka Boy: A Rugby League Story, by Tom Palmer


Computer Games

Rugby League Live 2 World Cup Edition

REVIEW: In Full Bloem, by Jamie Bloem and Andrew Hardcastle

Jamie BloemJamie Bloem is standing in a corridor in the bowels of the Halliwell Jones Stadium, coffee in hand, preparing to commentate on one of the coldest matches Super League has ever witnessed.

Twenty years ago, he had not heard of rugby league. Now, after a rollercoaster career, he is a former international player, a current BBC pundit and a Championship One referee – and that’s without touching on any of the controversies.

As a player, Bloem was a polarising figure. But with the release of Andrew Hardcastle’s biography In Full Bloem, the public is being given a chance to see Bloem in a different light.

“London League Publications got hold of me, said they wanted to do a book on me and asked if I’d be interested,” he explains. “We’d already done a book in the past with Steve Deane, but that wasn’t really what I wanted it to be. Peter put me in touch with Andrew Hardcastle, and we met every Monday for 14 or 15 months.

“I wanted to be part of it. I wanted it to be about me, not about what people think about me. The way I was on the field is not the way I am off the field. I’m a family man and I wanted that to be put across – and I’m really pleased with the end result. It’s everything I wanted it to be.”

In Full Bloem is not a long book, but his story is utterly remarkable. Say his name on the terraces at most rugby league grounds across the country and even now, 19 years on, there are two words that are likely to come back: drugs cheat.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life. Every part of your life, no matter how good or bad it is, makes you the person you are today. My daughter’s nine and my son’s 15, and I’ve made them read the book. They needed to read every single part of it. They never knew about the steroid stuff – it was way before they were born – so I’ve made them read the book and ask me questions.

“When I got banned in 1994 my wife and I had only just met. I said to her then if she wanted to go, she could go – but she stuck by me. For two years the only salary we had was hers, which was £580 a month. That’s all we had. We had to pay rent and live off that. When you do that, you learn the value of money and the value of your relationship.

“We became so close over those two years that our bond became stronger than anything else. Do I regret taking steroids? No I don’t, because if I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have been with my wife right now. I’d have probably been one of the idiots running about like other rugby players do, doing stupid things.

“Instead I became very grounded and when I got signed on at Widnes 18 months into my ban, I really appreciated what I’d got. People often say, ‘do you regret it?’ I don’t regret it one bit.”

Bloem is clearly at peace with his past. One of the book’s more remarkable tales is his flirtation with American Football while banned from rugby league, with only his determination to succeed in the 13-man game preventing a professional career.

“London Monarchs offered me a contract after about three or four weeks of playing with London Olympians. It was £500 a week, and £5,000 a game, which was a lot of money for me. I was quite keen, but they wanted me to move to London so I could train most days.

“It’s a totally different game; it looks like it’s slow, but the collisions are a lot more strenuous, especially on your knees. They use their helmets to dive at your knees, instead of tackling you, and I could just imagine my career not lasting very long. One hit on the side of your knee, and it’s gone.

“My wife and I sat down and sat ourselves some goals. I wanted to come back to rugby and prove to people I wasn’t the player I was because of steroids. I wanted to play international rugby again. I wanted to play Super League. In doing all of that, I couldn’t afford to get injured playing American Football – even though the money would have been great.”

He now runs a landscaping business alongside his refereeing and commentating commitments. “I’m doing Championship One games this year and I’m hoping to progress through that. I’m really happy. I’m not refereeing for money, I’m refereeing because I enjoy it.

“I could have done media work and earned the same money as I do from refereeing, but I chose to referee and I do it because I enjoy it. I don’t mind going to Hemel, Gloucester, Oxford or Gateshead – I just love being part of it and giving a little bit back.”

Buy Now


In Full Bloem, by Jamie Bloem and Andrew Hardcastle, is available now. ISBN 978-1903659656, published by London League Publications. Buy now and save on the cover price.

This review first appeared in the April 2013 issue of Forty-20 magazine.

FEATURE: Your rugby league books Christmas gift list

Looking for the perfect gift?

It’s been a busy year in rugby league publishing. Here’s our rundown of what’s hit the shelves this year.

British books

Coaching Is Chaos, by John Kear and Peter Smith

Building Winning Teams, by Brian Noble

Moz: My Story, by Adrian Morley and Phil Wilkinson

Robbie Rugby Warrior, by Robbie Hunter-Paul and Chris Irvine

The Devil Within, by Malcolm Alker and Julie Stott

The Gillette Rugby League Yearbook, by Tim Butcher and Daniel Spencer

The Official Super League Annual 2013, by Neil Barraclough

A Lad From Donkey Common, by Austin Rhodes

Come On Northern, by Trevor Delaney

The Warrington Wolves Miscellany, by Gary Slater

The Heart And Art Of My Rugby Photography, by Paul Hart

Three Fartown Aussies: Hunter, Cooper, Devery, by David Gronow

Strike! The Tour That Died Of Shame, by John Coffey

The Missing Trophy, by Tracy Maguire

20 Legends: Warrington Wolves, by Phil Hodgson

Australian books

Gaz: The Autobiography Of A League Legend, by Mark Gasnier

Supercoach: The Life And Times Of Jack Gibson, by Andrew Webster


Rugby League Live 2 for Xbox 360

Rugby League Live 2 for Playstation 3

FEATURE: Rugby league on the Kindle – the complete guide

It’s this year’s hottest Christmas present, but what does the Kindle have to offer rugby league fans?

Quite a lot, it turns out.

The beauty of electronic publishing is in making old releases available at the click of a button. It also gives much easier access to titles published on the other side of the world.

Rugby League Books has been taking a look at what’s currently available on the Kindle for rugby league fans who might just have an inkling what Santa’s bringing them this year.

Here’s our complete list (as of December 10, 2011):


Down Under


Rugby league books from 2011 – a Christmas gift guide

Ho, ho, ho… Christmas is coming!

If you’re struggling for gift ideas, hopefully this list of rugby league books released in 2011 might give you some inspiration….

If we’ve missed anything, let us know and we’ll be happy to add it to the list.

In the meantime, here’s Rugby League Books’ 2011 Christmas sing-along. All together now…

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…
    12 James Lomases
    11 Darren Lockyers
    10 Tigers legends
    9 Aussie tourists
    8 Warrior Jeffs
    7 Garfield Owens
    6 Stankevitches
    5 Trips to Hull
    4 Paul Loughlins
    3 Yearbooks
    2 Graeme Wests
    And The Bald Truth by Mr Senior.

FEATURE: How one man crossed the great divide to write a rugby league book in 10 weeks

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with author Andrew Quirke, who here reveals a frantic schedule for working on Graeme West’s autobiography. You can read the first part here.

For most writers, taking on one book is a big enough challenge. Not Andrew Quirke.

The rugby league author has two autobiographies in their final stages, with Paul Loughlin’s From Grass to Glass set to be released in September 2011 before Graeme West’s autobiography hits the shelves later this year.

Quirke revealed: “Graeme’s moving back to New Zealand at the end of the year, which meant we had 10 weeks in total to write the book from start to finish!” [Read more…]

NEWS: Paul Loughlin’s autobiography set for release

This is the first of a two-part interview with author Andrew Quirke, who here discusses Paul Loughlin’s upcoming autobiography and will later reveal details of his next two projects.

If author Andrew Quirke did not know how to multitask 12 months ago, it is almost certain that he does now.

The St Helens season-ticket holder has been juggling a full time job with writing two upcoming rugby league titles, and has recently agreed a deal for a third rugby league book in 2011. [Read more…]

FEATURE: Full steam ahead, insists Scratching Shed boss as book publisher celebrates its third birthday

From Hull to Hell and back... Lee Crooks' autobiography

From Hull to Hell and back... Lee Crooks' autobiography

Scratching Shed Publishing is approaching its third birthday, with co-director Tony Hannan telling Rugby League Books that there will be no let up in the company’s prolific output of rugby league titles.

Lee Crooks’ autobiography, From Hull to Hell and back, is among the books Scratching Shed are set to release in the imminent future.

And Hannan, who along with colleague Phil Caplan has helped to establish Scratching Shed, is busily preparing the company’s next moves after their recent launch of Forty-20, a new monthly rugby league magazine.

Hannan said: “If we’d have known we’d be where we are now when we first launched Scratching Shed then we’d have been very happy, because we’re still going for one thing. That’s an achievement in itself bearing in mind the market we’re in and the ongoing recession. [Read more…]

NEWS: Book publishers just 24 hours away from launch of new rugby league magazine ‘Forty-20’

Rugby League Books speaks exclusively to Scratching Shed Publishing on the eve of their new rugby league magazine ‘Forty-20’ hitting the shelves for the first time.

Forty-20, issue one

Forty-20, issue one

They say there’s nothing like diversification to keep a business fresh – and book publishers Scratching Shed have taken that on board as they prepare for the launch of their new monthly rugby league magazine ‘Forty-20’.

Issue one of Forty-20 hits the shelves on Wednesday, 13 July, and marks a major change for Scratching Shed, who until now have been known as the publishers of a range of books – including many rugby league titles.

Scratching Shed co-director and Forty-20 editor Tony Hannan told Rugby League Books: “It’s an exciting time. [Read more…]

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.