The Road to Super League
By Mike Latham and Daniel Spencer
The 2016 Kingstone Press Championship was a season unlike any other. Thrills and spills all the way were crowned with a first promotion to Super League in British rugby league’s much heralded New Era.
And the club that made that leap was Leigh Centurions, packed full of great players, backed by charismatic owner Derek Beaumont and roared on by a vocal crowd whether on the road or at a bouncing Leigh Sports Village.
In The Road to Super League, Mike Latham and Daniel Spencer take a look back at an action-packed year, with all the memories and statistics any fan could hope for. It’s a perfect feast to celebrate the Centurions’ return to the top flight in 2017 and a yearbook that no Leigh supporter will want to miss.
By Bev Risman
With a foreword by Lord Melvyn Bragg
At the start of a glorious and varied career, Bev Risman faced two major dilemmas. Should he represent his ancestral homeland Wales or England, his country of birth? Ought he to play rugby league or rugby union? Son of league icon Gus, Risman made his name in the fifteen-a-side code, playing for England and touring with the 1959 British Lions.
Later, after initially moving to rugby league with Leigh, he enjoyed huge success at Leeds, with whom he played in the famous Watersplash Challenge Cup final at Wembley. He was top goal-kicker in the league for three years and became a dual-code tourist while captaining the 1968 Great Britain side in the World Cup in Australia.
Upon retirement, Risman became rugby league’s first ever development officer in the South of England. He was appointed director of the Student Rugby League, became a founder member of the charity Rugby League Cares and, in 2010, enjoyed a year as President of the RFL and was awarded the OBE for services to the game.
An all-round sportsman, Risman also worked for the Lawn Tennis Association and was technical director of David Storey’s rugby league-based play The Changing Room in London’s West End.
Both Sides of the Fence is his autobiography. A fascinating insight into decades of great change, it lays open the events and personalities that have dominated both codes of rugby.
The autobiography of Gareth Hock – As told to Neil Barker
With a foreword by Adrian Morley
Gareth Hock is widely seen as the bad boy of rugby league. A player who, in his early years with hometown Wigan, seemed to have the world at his feet was instead derailed by a drugs ban, skirmishes with officials and other headline-grabbing controversies.
Yet now, for the first time, Hock insists that there is more to this private family man than that, while putting his side of a story that has never been short of incident.
Hock: The Real Me is a rugby league book that – like the player himself – packs a real punch!
160 pages, paperback.
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.