By Tony Collins
In 1895, the game of rugby league was born. Ever since, it has brought us thrilling matches, magical players and countless memorable moments. Published to coincide with the game’s 125th anniversary, Rugby League: A People’s History tells the story of the sport in all its glory, from global superstars to local supporters and everyone in between … professionals and amateurs, men and women, officials and volunteers.
It goes back to the start of rugby and explains why rugby league was born, how it grew around the world, and what enabled – and still enables – it to triumph over adversity.
This is more than just a history of rugby league. It is a social history of the life and times of the north of England.
Tony Collins is emeritus professor of history at De Montfort University, whose books include The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby and How Football Began. He has won the Lord Aberdare Prize for sports history book of the year four times, and appeared on many BBC television and radio programmes.
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.