REVIEW: The heart and the art of my rugby photography, by Paul Hart

At whatever level it’s played, rugby has always been about passion. You need it to be able to step on to the pitch, you need it to run struggling amateur clubs and you need it to referee.

Now, following the publication of The Heart And The Art Of My Rugby Photography, nobody can doubt photographer Paul Hart’s passion for the oval ball.

Hart has spent his weekends chronicling both rugby league and union in his native Wales, from amateur and student league matches through to full internationals and fixtures at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. [Read more…]

REVIEW: The Warrington Wolves Miscellany, by Gary Slater

There have been plenty of critics of the Daily Telegraph’s rugby league coverage during recent years, but there can be few who could question DT sub-editor Gary Slater’s love of Britain’s best kept sporting secret.

Slater’s latest book, The Official Warrington Wolves Miscellany, is a fine effort that also contains enough nuggets for those not permanently donning Primrose and Blue glasses.

There are statistics and lists, but as ever with rugby league, it is the human stories that both illuminate and dominate. [Read more…]

REVIEW: The Official Super League Annual 2012, by Neil Barraclough

The Official Super League Annual 2012

The Official Super League Annual 2012

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? [Read more…]

REVIEW: The King of Brilliance: James Lomas – A Rugby League Superstar, by Graham Morris

The King of Brilliance

The King of Brilliance, by Graham Morris

Rarely can a rugby league book have required such research and dedication, but in The King of Brilliance author Graham Morris has produced a work that is worthy of its subject – the early 20th century star James Lomas – as well as providing a remarkable insight into British rugby league before the first World War.

The King of Brilliance is a grand tome from the moment you set your eyes on the 272-page, nearly A4-sized hardback.

It’s the kind of book that is fitting of a man who captained the Northern Union team on its first tour of Australia and New Zealand back in 1910. Tales from that tour are outlined in Tom Mather’s Best In The Northern Union, another worthy historical title from London League Publications. [Read more…]

REVIEW: The Bald Truth, by Keith Senior and Peter Smith

Keith Senior: The Bald Truth

Keith Senior: The Bald Truth

Want to know what happened when Kevin Sinfield threw a bowl of peanuts at Gary Hetherington? The truth behind Keith Senior’s 2005 Challenge Cup final injury? Or – perhaps less likely – Brian Carney’s toilet habits? It’s all in The Bald Truth, Senior’s fast-paced and searingly honest autobiography.

Ghostwriter Peter Smith has done a cracking job, while Senior’s attitude is one of the book’s huge strengths. The Bald Truth is a forthright and upfront read, with Senior touching on all the controversies and high points of his remarkable career. [Read more…]

REVIEW: From Grass to Glass, by Paul Loughlin and Andrew Quirke

From grass to glass, by Paul Loughlin and Andrew Quirke

From grass to glass, by Paul Loughlin and Andrew Quirke

It says much about Paul Loughlin’s career that, even after 10 years in retirement, the former St Helens, Bradford and Great Britain centre can still command enough interest to publish From Grass to Glass, his revealing and witty autobiography.

Loughlin achieved so much as a player: he scored more than 2,000 points for St Helens, represented Great Britain 15 times and twice toured Down Under with the national team.

For some, he will go down as the unfortunate bloke who got to five Challenge Cup finals – and lost the lot.

But for most, the memories are of a classy centre who had natural talent. Loughlin admits he could have been even better had he been coached by the likes of Brian Smith at the start of his career, rather than at the end, but there are very few regrets in his story. [Read more…]

REVIEW: From Hull to Hell and back, by Lee Crooks and Vince Groak

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

From Hull to Hell and back... Lee Crooks' autobiography is out now

For sheer warts-and-all honesty, From Hull to Hell and back is up there with Sean Long’s autobiography.

Lee Crooks recently told Rugby League Books how his autobiography had been three years in the making.

It has been time well spent, because the final product is something that Crooks and ghostwriter Vince Groak can both look upon with pride.

At nearly 350 pages, it’s certainly one of the longer rugby league books of recent years. But Groak has put plenty of effort and craft into creating a story that is easy to read, meaning pages get turned extremely quickly. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Being John Stankevitch, by John Stankevitch

Being John Stankevitch

Being John Stankevitch

As a player, John Stankevitch was honest and tough. Being John Stankevitch is exactly the same.

Stankevitch wrote the book himself, sitting down after work every day for two months to complete what he labelled as “therapy” during an earlier interview with Rugby League Books.

When Stankevitch’s career came to a premature end aged just 25, it sent him on a downward spiral from which it took years to recover.

Details of contract negotiations, mounting debts and wrong decisions are all laid bare with brutal candour. [Read more…]

REVIEW: A Welshman in Halifax: Garfield Owen – rugby footballer, by Andrew Hardcastle

A Welshman in Halifax, by Andrew Hardcastle

A Welshman in Halifax, by Andrew Hardcastle

It is a measure of Garfield Owen’s quality and profile as a rugby union player in the 1950s that his signing of a Halifax rugby league contract was televised live on the BBC’s Sportsview programme.

One of the most gifted full backs of his generation, Owen moved north from Newport and fell in love with West Yorkshire, where he still lives now. The title of his biography, A Welshman in Halifax, could not be more apt. [Read more…]

REVIEW: The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE, by Maurice Bamford

The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE, by Maurice Bamford

The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE, by Maurice Bamford

Only a select group of British rugby league personalities have been recognised with an honour from the Queen.

The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE tells the tale of how a Yorkshire lad rose from Batley High School to Buckingham Palace, stopping off at Dewsbury, Cronulla, Bradford, Leeds, Featherstone and Batley on the way.

During a remarkable career that eventually came to an end at the unbelievable age of 45 – at least 10 years more than most of today’s rugby league players manage – Grayshon established a reputation as a powerful forward who could split the tightest of defences with his exemplary distribution. [Read more…]