FALLEN HEROES OF THE NORTHERN UNION
Published 31 August 2018 – pre-order now
By Jane and Chris Roberts
They were among the 1914 sporting elite. As professional rugby league players competing in the Northern Union (the forerunner to the Rugby Football League), they were idolised by tens of thousands throughout the northern heartlands.
But even though they had earned hero status and were at the height of their rugby league powers, these brave sporting warriors were ready and willing to sacrifice their privileged professional careers and fight for King and Country in the First World War – and then make the ultimate sacrifice by losing their lives.
Yet while other sports have honoured their Great War fallen over the decades and produced Rolls of Honour to ensure their players’ sacrifices have never been forgotten, it’s never been done in rugby league – until now. It’s finally time to pay homage to those known players who were senior Northern Union stars when war was declared on 4 August, 1914, but threw it all away to move from the sporting fields of the north of England to the killing fields of France, Belgium and beyond, and never returned to resume their rugby league careers.
Among those who fell were three members of the Great Britain 1914 summer tour to Australia and New Zealand, as well as a number of former internationals and many others who had earned top domestic honours with their clubs. Also honoured are players who were just embarking on their professional careers but were never able to fulfil their potential because of the unimaginable horrors being faced during the bloody battles that raged between 1914 and 1918.
Each of the players honoured has a different tale to tell, although so much at the start of their short and highly-talented lives had been so positive, beginning with their childhood, the journey they made to become a member of the elite Northern Union club, their experiences at the top level of the game and finally their enlistment into the British Army which would ultimately lead to their death as they all made the Greatest Sacrifice.
Britain’s Forgotten Reality Superstar
by Tim Hogarth
In the north of England there was a put-down for women who had ideas above their station: “Who do you think you are? Lady Docker?”
Through Britain’s post-War years, scarcely a day went by when Norah Docker and husband Sir Bernard didn’t dominate the newspapers. The Dazzling Dockers, as they became known, were on everyone’s lips. Rubbing shoulders with royalty and the era’s Hollywood stars, the pair caught the imagination of a public hungry for frivolity.
They were the pioneering reality superstars of their age, controversial standard-bearers for our own celebrity-obsessed 21st century. Yet of the two, there is no doubt whose star shone brightest. Born over a butcher’s shop in Derby, Norah Docker went on to enjoy a level of fame second only to a young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Brash but always fun, Sir Bernard was her third millionaire catch in a row.
Antiques expert Tim Hogarth, star of ITV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal and Secret Dealers, re-tells a tale once familiar but now almost totally forgotten featuring excessive spending, posh furs, diamonds, gold-plated Daimlers and terrible behaviour, such as when Norah got the couple banned by Prince Rainier of Monaco and saw the jewel that inspired the Pink Panther films stolen, thereby becoming involved with the London underworld. The Dockers sailed the Med on their own superyacht, owned castles and country estates.
It couldn’t last, of course, and didn’t, but what waves this working class girl made en route from rags to riches and back again. From the Bright Young Things of London’s Roaring Twenties to their equivalents in the Swinging Sixties, the adventures of Lady Norah Docker are a dazzling treat.
By Seth Burkett
“A great story for all football fans…” – Willian, Chelsea and Brazil
With an introduction by Sam Clucas, Swansea City
Alfie Bennett is going to be a superstar. He is absolutely sure of it. Every second of his life is dedicated to football. And when he gets signed up by the famous Borough Academy, it looks as if he’s well and truly on the way to achieving his dream. Yet life at Borough isn’t all that it seems…
‘A passion for the beautiful game shines through in this wonderful title…’ – International Soccer Network
Author: Leon Crick. Illustrations: Dave Bull.
Learn to read with Ronnie the Rhino! RHINOS READING is a project launched by Leeds Rhinos Foundation that aims to support children’s literacy and introduce them to rugby league via stories featuring the superstars of the club – and this is the first book in the new series. Who better than the world’s most famous rugby league mascot to launch it?
A boy. A bike. A legend.
By David Brayley
What if you were a professional road cyclist and – due to a run of bad injuries and loss of form – were told your career will be finished if you didn’t succeed in one of the world’s toughest races? Daniel’s dream of being a leading professional cyclist is under threat but, far from being worried, he believes he has the answer. All he has to do is remember it.
For that, he must go back to the very beginning of his journey as a 14-year-old rider in the leafy lanes of Wales’s Gower Peninsula, and then make a shock detour to rural Italy, where he first hears what will become his mantra – “Be the best that you can be.”
The eccentric stranger who tells him so also introduces Daniel to the legendary Italian racer, Fausto Coppi, and inspires the teenage boy with stories of Coppi’s excellence, bravery, success and ultimate heartbreak. But the eerie man with detailed knowledge hides a dark secret. Once before he tried to inspire a teenage cyclist and the horror of that episode is slowly revealed to Daniel.
In a story that threatens to tear a family apart, can Daniel navigate his past and call on the reasons that led to him becoming a professional cyclist in the first place? If so, he may just be able to deliver a performance in the brutal Milan-San Remo race and save not only his cycling career but everything his life has meant so far.
Will the memories be too painful? Or will they lead on to ultimate glory?