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Scratching Shed Publishing


Different Class – The Story of Schools Rugby League

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.


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Headingley Ghosts

A Collection of Yorkshire Cricket Tragedies

By Mick Pope

Lest we forget … on the 150th anniversary of Yorkshire cricket:

They shared three common threads – Yorkshire, cricket and tragedy
Compiled by Yorkshire cricket writer and researcher Mick Pope, Headingley Ghosts is a dark collection of over 60 Yorkshire cricket biographies, spanning more than 180 years of the game in the county.
From the Sheffield pioneers of the 1820s to the modern tragedy of David Bairstow, this haunting book – through original research and a wide selection of rare images – recalls what became of these tragic Yorkshire cricketers beyond the boundary.
They died young, they died old; they died in obscurity; they died in poverty; they died on the road, in the air and on the rail track; they died by their own hand; they died in war and they died fighting sickness – collectively they are Headingley Ghosts.

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Learning Curve

The Remarkable Story of Student Rugby League

By Dave Hadfield

Learning Curve – Dave Hadfield’s seventh book about rugby league – is devoted to one of the game’s great untold stories.

The spread of Student rugby league throughout England is highlighted by chapters on the development of league at Oxford and Cambridge – where sceptics said it would never penetrate.
Hadfield also looks at the growth of the 13-a-side code in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, as well as among students in Australia, France and New Zealand. The regular staging of Student World Cups, Ashes series and thriving domestic competitions are all covered, alongside the author’s inimitable observations of the state of play today.
From dozens of interviews with those most closely involved, rugby league’s best-loved writer captures the spirit of one of the sport’s great successes – from the dedication it takes at the elite level to the humour it demands in the lower echelons. Whether you played at university or college or not, Learning Curve is an unmissable read for anyone interested in the future of rugby league.
* Learning Curve includes forewords from David Oxley – former chief executive of the Rugby Football League and chairman of the Student Rugby League – and Brian Carney, the Irish student who went on to play with great success in Super League, Australia’s NRL and on the international stage with Great Britain.

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Strike! The Tour That Died of Shame

By John Coffey
Strike! The Tour that Died of Shame is the sixth in Scratching Shed Publishing’s critically-acclaimed Rugby League Classics series.
The 1926-27 New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ rugby league tour of Great Britain was the most tempestuous sporting venture of all time and led to seven of the players being disqualified for life on their return home.
Set against the backdrop of a financially crippling miners’ strike, the ‘guilty’ tourists rebelled against their controversial coach, an Australian who himself was suspended for part of the tour by English authorities.
Nineteen loyal players were left to carry on bravely against overwhelming odds in the midst of a harsh English winter, some of them backing up for as many as fifteen consecutive matches.
Strike! The Tour that Died of Shame is that story. It is a tale of hardship and heroism, courage and cover-up, examined in depth for the very first time. It is an investigation of what went wrong with a tour that promised so much. It seeks to establish who – if anyone – was really to blame. And it is a fascinating slice of sporting social history whose reverberations continue to be felt to this day.
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John Coffey is New Zealand’s most experienced rugby league writer, having covered more than 100 Test matches during 44 years with The Press newspaper in Christchurch and as a touring New Zealand Press Association correspondent. His previous books have included Canterbury XIII (1987), Modern Rugby League Greats (1991), Being Frank, the Frank Endacott Story (2002), and major publications to mark the centenaries of the Kiwis (2007), New Zealand Maori Rugby League (2008) and Auckland Rugby League (2009).

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Gateways to Harewood

Tales of a house, a school and a village

By the pupils of Gateways School

Foreword by Patricia, Countess of Harewood
With an original short story by GP Taylor

The settlement of Harewood can trace its history to the Bronze Age. At the heart of this picturesque Yorkshire village today lies Harewood House, well known for its own fascinating and distinguished family tree.
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Harewood has seen many tales unfold down the centuries and countless changes have altered the face of the village. This book is a treasury of inspirational writing and artwork by the pupils of Gateways School, an establishment with its own part to play in the story. Every contribution captures the beguiling spirit of Harewood. Gateways to Harewood is a special project, the like of which has never before been undertaken. It is unique in its desire not merely to document historical facts, but also to utilise them as a perfect springboard for creativity.

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