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The Greatest Sacrifice

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.

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The Dazzling Lady Docker

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.

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13 Inspirations – The Guiding Lights of Rugby League

Edited by Tony Hannan. Foreword by Kevin Sinfield MBE.

13 Inspirations is a lively collection of essays by many of the leading writers and personalities in rugby league. With proceeds going to Rugby League Cares – a charity devoted to ensuring the welfare of the game’s wider community – it tells 13 fascinating stories about 13 of rugby league’s most inspirational personalities.

From the early days of the Northern Union, icons like Albert Baskerville and Lance Todd spring to life. From more recent history, heroes like Mike Gregory, Steve Prescott MBE and Darren Lockyer feature. And from modern-day Super League come Adrian Morley, Jamie Peacock MBE and others.

Edited by Tony Hannan with a foreword by Kevin Sinfield MBE, and including contributions from Jamie-Jones Buchanan, Jon Wilkin, Dave Hadfield and Brian Noble among a host of authorities on the sport, 13 Inspirations celebrates the game’s guiding lights in a way that no one who cares for rugby league will want to miss.

Rugby League Cares – Supporting rugby league’s broad community. Past, present and future.

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Funny Bones – My Life in Comedy – Hardback

By Freddie Davies, with Anthony Teague

With a foreword by Ken Dodd

In 1964, a single appearance on TV talent show Opportunity Knocks made ‘Parrotface’ comedian Freddie Davies famous overnight. Spectacular success followed, stars such as Judy Garland, Cliff Richard, even Cary Grant, were fans…

But when it all began to slip in the 1980s, Freddie became a producer and then forged yet another career as a serious actor. He appeared to great acclaim in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Secret Garden and cult film Funny Bones – alongside Lee Evans and Jerry Lewis – based on tales of Freddie’s music hall comic grandfather Jack Herbert. Now he has come full circle, delighting audiences again as Samuel Tweet in theatres up and down the land.

Fifty years on from his television debut, Freddie finally tells his own story, revealing for the first time the tragedy behind his early days in Salford and a family secret that rocked his world. He paints a vivid and hilarious picture of a gruelling apprenticeship in the Northern clubs – revealing how ‘Parrotface’ spluttered into life.

With a foreword by legendary comic Ken Dodd, this unique autobiography is a poignant and hilarious evocation of a vanished world, offering insights into the art of stand-up and a richly nostalgic treat for comedy connoisseurs.

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Funny Bones – My Life in Comedy – Paperback

By Freddie Davies, with Anthony Teague

With a foreword by Ken Dodd

In 1964, a single appearance on TV talent show Opportunity Knocks made ‘Parrotface’ comedian Freddie Davies famous overnight. Spectacular success followed, stars such as Judy Garland, Cliff Richard, even Cary Grant, were fans…

But when it all began to slip in the 1980s, Freddie became a producer and then forged yet another career as a serious actor. He appeared to great acclaim in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Secret Garden and cult film Funny Bones – alongside Lee Evans and Jerry Lewis – based on tales of Freddie’s music hall comic grandfather Jack Herbert. Now he has come full circle, delighting audiences again as Samuel Tweet in theatres up and down the land.

Fifty years on from his television debut, Freddie finally tells his own story, revealing for the first time the tragedy behind his early days in Salford and a family secret that rocked his world. He paints a vivid and hilarious picture of a gruelling apprenticeship in the Northern clubs – revealing how ‘Parrotface’ spluttered into life.

With a foreword by legendary comic Ken Dodd, this unique autobiography is a poignant and hilarious evocation of a vanished world, offering insights into the art of stand-up and a richly nostalgic treat for comedy connoisseurs.

LIMITED HARDBACK EDITION ALSO AVAILABLE 

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