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.

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.

NEWS: Rugby league author Ray French receives MBE

Rugby league author, commentator, columnist and former dual-code international Ray French has today been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.

rugbyleaguebooks.com sends its congratulations to Ray for a hugely deserved award.

Rugby league author Ray French

Rugby league author Ray French, MBE

French, who most recently penned Ray French… and rugby, has been a towering figure in the sport since the 1960s.

A league and Challenge Cup winner as a player, he also represented England at rugby union and Great Britain at rugby league.

He then worked in radio and, most famously, as the BBC’s commentator at every Challenge Cup final from 1982 until 2008.

And despite his high profile, French’s support for the game’s grassroots remains as strong as ever.

UPDATE: Scratching Shed, the publishers of Ray French… and rugby, have sent their own message of congratulations here.

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.

INTERVIEW: Ray French… and rugby – memories of a sporting great

Rugby league author Ray French

Rugby league author Ray French

Ray French is a rugby league legend. We’ve tried, but there is no other way of putting it.

A dual code international more than 30 years before the likes of Jason Robinson and Henry Paul, he won the Challenge Cup in 1966 before moving into radio and, more famously, television. He was the BBC’s commentator on every Challenge Cup Final between 1982 and 2008.

Asking Ray French about the magic of the Challenge Cup is like opening a box of chocolates: it can be difficult to know where to start.

For nearly 30 years, French’s unique voice broadcast the competition’s climax to the nation’s armchair viewers – but his personal love affair with rugby league’s oldest trophy is now well into its sixth decade. [Read more…]