A History of Runcorn Northern Union Club
by Michael Latham
Runcorn was a hotbed of rugby in the late Victorian era, the town’s club a proud founder member in 1895 of the Northern Union – the breakaway game that became known as Rugby League.
Yet that great rugby tradition was ended by the First World War, with devastating effects for many Runcornians, including members of the rugby club, who served and lost their lives.
Runcorn nurtured ten international rugby players in total, all but one born within a few hundred yards of the Irwell Lane ground.
Respected sports writer and historian Michael Latham recreates those far-off days when the oval ball dominated and the town’s heroes included Harry Speakman, a member of the first rugby tourists to Australia, Sam Houghton, Jimmy Butterworth, Jimmy Jolley and Dick Padbury, among just a few in a gallery of colourful characters, the rugby league superstars of their day.
With a detailed biographical and records section to complement the deeply researched narrative, this is one of the most comprehensive histories ever written about the Northern Union and contains around three hundred photographs.
Harry Price was once a promising Runcorn player, snapped up by Wigan in 1906, where he became a highly regarded and popular player and captain. The report announcing his signing in the Wigan newspaper had a simple, approving testimonial: “Price was born in Runcorn, the home of footballers.” Hence the book’s title.
The Remaking of French Rugby League
By Mike Rylance
A much-anticipated sequel to The Forbidden Game
The Catalan Dragons’ stunning 2018 Wembley Challenge Cup victory came against a backdrop of well over half a century of both triumph and turbulence in French rugby league.
Re-emerging from the iniquitous ban under the Vichy government, le rugby à treize was rebuilt from scratch after World War II – so successfully that the Tricolores were recognized as unofficial world champions after their dazzling, ground-breaking tour of Australia, and were at the forefront of international innovation, including the World Cup.
Together with the acclaimed The Forbidden Game, which explored the story of the Vichy ban, The Struggle and the Daring makes up the first-ever complete history of French rugby league.
Based on extensive research and interviews, Mike Rylance’s book highlights the many great players France has produced and analyses key events as the game emerged from the chaos of post-Liberation France, continued to grapple with the threat posed by rugby union and, after a long decline, returned to the mainstream of professional rugby league.
Investigations from a Yorkshire Crime Writer’s Casebook
By Stephen Wade
There has always been a fascination with crime and punishment; from highwaymen to the foul deeds of Bradford lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe. The allure of the unsolved case has long provided material for true crime and fiction writers.
In Stephen Wade’s personal casebook, Murder in Mind, he gazes back over favourite investigations in his home county Yorkshire – rich with villainous acts, painstaking detective work and injustice.
Read about Leeds’s most notorious female killer Louie Calvert and why Wade believes her conviction and hanging a travesty. Learn of famous hangmen, Chartist rebels and cases open to fresh investigation, such as those of Bill o’ Jacks, Mr Blum and Emily Pye.
Murder in Mind brings together Stephen’s journeys into the criminal underworld, including his work as a writer in prisons and his research in the murder archives.
The basis for this book was created in the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ years, when the impact of that series of murders sparked the crime writer in him. His tutor, Stanley Ellis, worked on the notoriously misleading ‘Ripper Tapes.’
Since then, Stephen has written over 70 non-fiction titles – many of them on the history of crime and the law – but this is something different. It is a mixture of memoir, reflection and the realisation that murder often happens down the street.
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.