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…]

INTERVIEW: John Holmes’ nephew, Phil Jr, remembers a rugby league great

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story. Here he talks about John’s remarkable talents. You can read part one of this interview by clicking here.

Reluctant Hero - The John Holmes Story

John Holmes was always known as a special talent on the field, and a quiet guy off it.

A Leeds hero of the 70s and 80s, most South Standers regard Holmes as a magician – a master craftsman with the ball in his hands.

Holmes’ nephew, Phil Jr, told Rugby League Books: “His first wife, Jenny, and his second wife, Karen, were telling him he was special and that he needed to celebrate that.

“Towards the end he did, but John just found the game of rugby league very easy.”

He continued: “John grew up playing against his two brothers. One was four years older than him, and the other was eight years older than him.

“When he turned professional there were guys coming to take his head off, but he was used to it because ‘our kid’ had been doing it all his life. I don’t think he really knew how difficult other people found the game. [Read more…]

INTERVIEW: Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of ‘Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story’, on writing a tribute to a Leeds hero

Reluctant Hero - The John Holmes Story

This is the first of a two-part interview with Phil Holmes Jr, co-author of Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story. Here he talks about gathering material for a book about a man who meant so much, to so many.

Few in rugby league are held in as high regard as John Holmes.

At Leeds, nobody is.

So when Holmes’ nephew, Phil junior, decided with his father, Phil senior, to take on the task of producing Reluctant Hero: The John Holmes Story, they realised the challenge they were undertaking.

“One of the reasons behind the book was John being so quiet,” Phil Jr told Rugby League Books. “There were things my dad was finding out through John’s team-mates, there were things John’s team-mates were finding out through my dad, and there were even things John’s Great Britain team-mates were finding out from his Leeds team-mates, and vice-versa.

“He kept himself to himself, but he had an absolutely massive bond with the guys he played with.” [Read more…]

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.