FALLEN HEROES OF THE NORTHERN UNION
By Jane and Chris Roberts
They were among the sporting elite of 1914 – the stars of the Northern Union – idolised by thousands of enthusiastic men, women and children up and down the land.
Yet despite their heroic status in what was soon to become known as rugby league, these warriors of the playing field were willing to sacrifice their careers – and then lives – on the World War One killing fields, for King and Country.
Other sports have honoured their Great War fallen over these past 100 years, producing Rolls of Honour to ensure that their ultimate bravery is never forgotten; not so rugby league – until now.
The Greatest Sacrifice – Fallen Heroes of the Northern Union – rights that wrong. It tells the story of talented sportsmen who, when war was declared on 4 August 1914, duly departed for France, Belgium and beyond, never again to see the rugby league towns and grounds they once so famously graced.
Among those who fell were three members of Great Britain’s 1914 summer tour to Australia and New Zealand. A number of other former internationals died too, as did many more who had earned top domestic honours with their clubs. Some of the youngest players were just embarking on professional careers and therefore never able to fulfil their potential.
Each player featured has a different tale to tell – from childhood to rugby stardom to enlistment into the British Army and, finally, the greatest sacrifice of all.
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?