By Matt King
With a foreword by Sir Alex Ferguson CBE
On the 4th April 2004, Matt King’s life changed forever…
Making his first tackle as a 17-year-old professional rugby player for London Broncos Academy, his neck snapped. A happy-go-lucky teenager with the world at his feet; his life, as well as his spinal cord, appeared broken.
But, showing the same spirit, resilience, wit and courage that characterised him before the accident, Matt overcame the severe trauma and rebuilt his life; gaining a degree, a high-profile job in the legal profession, became a successful mouth-painter, participated in marathons and carried the Olympic torch in 2012.
Awarded the OBE for his charitable work, which also includes giving motivational speeches to some of the country’s leading organisations, his is a story of the ultimate triumph of human spirit.
Two years in the writing, 04.04.04 is an unflinching account of his upbringing in Bedfordshire, his nine-month stay in three hospitals and the arduous road to rehabilitation.
“Everything changed in that split-second on the pitch and my goals and aspirations altered along with it,” he writes. “But it didn’t change the person I am or the fact that I want to make the most of this life.”
This is one of the most inspirational, remarkable and affirming stories you will ever read.
Afterword by Richard Lewis CBE.
Recollections of Batley RLFC
By John Roe
With a foreword by Batley chairman Kevin Nicholas.
John Roe was born and raised in Batley and taken to see his first match when he was eight years old. Now, the life-long fan has gathered together reminiscences and recollections from former players, fans old and new, administrators, volunteers and directors of the famous rugby league club.
One of the oldest clubs in the game and founder members of the Northern Union, Batley were the first-ever winners of the Challenge Cup in 1897 and still play at their Mount Pleasant home with its sloping pitch into the famous ‘nine ‘ole’.
Sermons from the Mount is as much a record of the changing social history of the sport from the 1950s onwards in one of its most traditional towns, as it is a look at the characters, facilities and memorable matches at a proud, ever-defiant outpost.
The book charts the setbacks and successes, triumphs and tribulations, changing training methods and transport to games from the part-time days of Wintergreen and shifts at the brickworks through the near-death of the club in the mid-1990s, to its current resurrection that saw victory in the Northern Rail Cup and them reach a Championship Grand Final.
This is the warts and all tale of the journey and constant struggle told by those who are integral to it, as the Gallant Youths of folklore became the Bulldogs.
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.
By Phil Caplan and Ron England
With a foreword by Neil Fox MBE
Around the turn of the 20th century, schools rugby league was formalised. Compiled from a nationwide archive, Different Class puts a long and illustrious history in context, capturing its flavour with an array of colourful contributions.
Examining the communities from which it sprang, neighbourhood rivalries, prevailing social conditions, stories of overcoming great odds and trips into the unknown, it traces the pioneering spirit that has characterised the schools game, and the role played by teachers as mentors and inspiring personalities.
Mixing fact and anecdote, the book contains a wealth of reminiscences from some who went on to become superstars of the sport, alongside those for whom the school playing field was their zenith.
By Damian Clayton, with Daniel Abrahams
Includes forewords by Kevin Sinfield and Paul Sculthorpe
Through Adversity is the story of Damian Clayton MBE, whose relentless pursuit of the rugby league dream has seen him brush shoulders with royalty, tour the world, receive a gong in 2008 and be voted Combined Services Sports Official of the Year.
Despite having long since achieved his main goal – to see his beloved rugby league recognised officially by the Armed Forces – the inspirational Royal Air Force Flight Sergeant continues to give his all to the sport he loves.
Clayton, the RAF’s ‘Mr Rugby League’, has been on a long journey. Since 1992 he has worked tirelessly to ensure the sport he has graced as player, administrator and coach is given the same official recognition that dozens of other sports that military personnel take part in – such as football, cricket and tennis – take for granted.
In the 1980s, military sport in the UK was run on traditional lines. Rugby league was not recognised, even if many within the services yearned to play it. One man changed all that. Damian Clayton, a young airman from West Yorkshire, did not (and still does not) take no for an answer. Battling against incredible odds, his passion for the game, ability on the pitch, organisation and persuasion skills were matched by grit, determination, a bit of cheek and the odd bit of low cunning. What’s more, he succeeded. Over one thousand servicemen and women now play rugby league in all three Services. Through Adversity highlights the highs and lows, the thrills and spills of the journey. The UK Armed Forces were Services World Cup Champions from 2008 to 2013; in the UK the relationship between military players and officials is exceptional. This unity of effort and purpose is exemplified by the force of nature that is Damian Clayton. I commend this book to anyone who is interested in success against the odds and a ripping good yarn! Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB CBE ADC BA MPhil DTech DLitt FRAeS RAF, Vice Chief of The Defence Staff