NEWS: Rugby league authors to feature in literary festival

Rugby league authors Ray French, Tony Hannan, Dave Hadfield, Tony Collins and Phil Caplan will all talk at the Leigh and Wigan Words Together Literary Festival, it has been confirmed.

All five authors will be present as Scratching Shed Publications host their first ‘In League With Literature’ event of 2011 on Wednesday, 4 May.

The quintet will be appearing at Ashton Library on Wigan Road for an evening of chat about rugby league.

French, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List, has most recently penned Ray French… and rugby.

Hannan, a former Rugby League World editor and a co-director of Scratching Shed, wrote the widely-acclaimed Being Eddie Waring while Caplan, another co-director of Scratching Shed, was Jamie Peacock’s ghost-writer on the England captain’s autobiography No White Flag.

Dave Hadfield’s books Up and Over and Down and Under are two of the most humourous works on rugby league culture and the places it is played in, while Professor Tony Collins is one of the sport’s leading historians. His titles 1895 and All That and Rugby’s Great Split would be worth a place on any league fan’s bookcase.

Tickets priced £5 can be booked by calling 01942 727119. Click here for more information about the Leigh and Wigan Words Together Literary Festival.

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

NEWS: Scratching Shed Publishing reprints three rugby league titles

Scratching Shed Publishing has reprinted three recently-released rugby league books, co-director Tony Hannan has revealed.

Demand from buyers has meant Ray French… and rugby, Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story and Dave Hadfield’s Down and Under have all been reprinted in recent weeks.

'Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story' is one of three books Scratching Shed Publishing has recently reprinted

Hannan told Rugby League Books: “The fact that we’ve had to produce these reprints is very encouraging.”

He added: “Times are tough in the book trade generally at the moment. In the last few days Waterstone’s have announced that they’ll be closing 20 stores, and small independent stores have also been struggling. On top of all of that, it’s only last year that we lost Borders.

“For something like rugby league to continue to perform well – albeit in a niche way – is very helpful, especially to smaller publishers like ourselves.”

Hannan cited the strong feelings of many rugby league supporters as one of the key reasons behind the continued success of rugby league books across the market.

“In some ways, they are more passionate than fans of other sports,” he said. “Perhaps that’s because it’s very hard to read about it anywhere else. Coverage is shrinking in certain parts of the media and people get very hungry for information.”

In the reprinted version of Ray French… and rugby, author Ray French has written a new page about his recent MBE award.

REVIEW: Down and Under, by Dave Hadfield

Down and Under, by Dave Hadfield

Down and Under, by Dave Hadfield

Ever considered the differences between hoons, larrikins, lairs, boofheads and bogans? Dave Hadfield gets to the bottom of this – and some of Australia’s other most pressing mysteries – in Down and Under, the exceptionally entertaining follow up to Up and Over.

Had things been different, this might have been a book about rugby league that included some titbits on Australia.

As it was, England’s 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign was so bad that Hadfield had little choice but to write about his travels instead.

Who can blame him?

From an English perspective, it was difficult enough to sit through that tournament in the first place. Who wants to read about it all over again? The recurring nightmares of Newcastle and Melbourne have only just stopped, thanks very much. [Read more…]

NEWS: Dave Hadfield recommends…

Dave Hadfield, the Independent’s rugby league reporter, has been busy putting forward his suggestions for some Christmas reading.

Among the books he’s recommended are:

There’s also a couple more suggestions, including a cracking DVD of the sport’s greatest ever tries.

We’ll be running reviews on all of the above, as well as hopefully talking to some of the authors involved. In the meantime, why not have a read of our interview with Ray French.

REVIEW: Up and over, by Dave Hadfield

Back in 2003, Dave Hadfield took part in a 220-mile charity trek across rugby league’s heartlands. Up and Over is the resulting vivid – and amusing – account of spending a fortnight with Stevo chirping in your ear.

The M62 - 'Up and Over' charts Dave Hadfield's 220-mile walk from Hull to Widnes

Starting in Hull and winding his way to Widnes, Hadfield stumbles across the bizarre, loveable and downright silly while also bringing to life some of rugby league’s most memorable characters.

Thankfully for Hadfield’s battered feet, Catalans Dragons and Celtic Crusaders had yet to be born when this book was put together. But a meander that roughly follows the M62 is a rich enough source of material for this book to be full of heart-warming chuckles and moments of poignancy from a sport that has enchanted so many fans, players, administrators and journalists alike. [Read more…]