By Ray French
Although BBC rugby league commentator and former St. Helens and Widnes forward Ray French represented his country at both codes of rugby and has, for the past thirty years, written and broadcast extensively on the sport, his latest book is far more than a look back at his life in the game. Here French looks back through his years in rugby and offers his often controversial views on its future. Paperback, 216 pages.
Although BBC rugby league commentator and former St. Helens and Widnes forward Ray French represented his country at both codes of rugby and has, for the past thirty years, written and broadcast extensively on the sport, his latest book is far more than a look back at his life in the game. In Ray French… and Rugby, he presents the story of a man who has for the past six decades straddled and enjoyed both oval ball codes as a spectator, player, coach, administrator and commentator. He calls upon his experiences on and off the pitch to consider the problems facing both sports, the relationship between them, the values and appeal of both games, and offers his strong, passionate and controversial opinions on their future. Naturally concentrating on rugby league, the passion in his life, he provides an abundance of humorous anecdotes and stories surrounding incidents and the characters within the game. Already the author of seven titles, Ray French looks upon this as being the definitive book on his career and everything associated with it.
By Eddie Waring
With a brand new introduction by Harry Edgar
Eddie Waring’s The Great Ones & Other Writings is the fifth book in Scratching Shed’s Rugby League Classics range and a real eye-opener for those who think they know the one-time BBC rugby league commentator. First published in 1969, the original Great Ones has assumed almost mythical status among followers of the 13-a-side code. This updated edition also includes Waring’s rare 1946 Indomitables Tour diary, first published in 1947. This is a must-have volume for every fan of rugby league. Paperback, 320 pages.
The fifth and latest book in Scratching Shed Publishing’s Rugby League Classics range is Eddie Waring’s The Great Ones and Other Writings. First published in 1969, the original Great Ones has assumed almost mythical status among followers of the 13-a-side football code thanks, in large part, to its rarity. The book is Waring’s personal take on some of the greatest rugby league players of all time, all of it written in his own idiosyncratic and entertaining style. Also included in this new edition is Waring’s highly readable account of the 1946 Indomitables Tour of Australia and New Zealand, along with assorted other writings from various publications which reveal that there was much more to this legendary broadcaster than met the eye – and ear! Rebranded as part of the Rugby League Classics range, this fifth book in a popular series also comes complete with a brand new introduction by esteemed rugby league writer Harry Edgar and an afterword by Eddie’s son, Tony Waring.
CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT
By Phil Holmes Jr and Phil Holmes Sr
This is the long awaited biography of Great Britain and Leeds rugby league legendary ‘quiet man’ John Holmes. Uniquely told by his brother and nephew, it is littered with anecdotes and reminiscences from friends and former team mates and is the definitive guide to the life of one of the code’s true greats. Paperback, 288 pages.
The absolute local boy made good, Kirkstall-b￼orn John Holmes will forever be an icon at his beloved Headingley; his exceptional, distinguished service in a glorious double-testimonial career seeing him become Leeds Rugby League’s longest serving player. Holmes honed his talents on a school playground with his elder brothers, learning and refining his abilities in the ultimate school of hard knocks to become the most durable and, arguably, best ever to don the colours he so cherished. A majestic ball handler, able to unlock any defence, he was a superb cover tackler and, perhaps most importantly, had a supreme rugby intelligence. Not that such influence was planned, his genius was instinctive. In a glorious 21 year career, he won every honour in the game, appearing in 625 matches for the Loiners including 19 finals and was the architect of victory in the majority of them. In 1972 he was integral to the Great Britain side that triumphed in the World Cup. It was a mark of the esteem with which he was held that, at barely a few days notice after his passing at the tragically young age of 57 in late September 2009, over 100 ex-players gathered on the pitch in silent tribute to him. His long awaited story, uniquely told by his brother and nephew, is littered with anecdotes and reminiscences from friends and former team mates and is the definitive guide to the life of one of the code’s true greats.
CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT
By Andy Hampson
With an introduction by the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP
Mr Rugby Leigh is the autobiography of￼ Tommy Sale, a rugby league hero, who devoted more than 80 years of his life to the sport – as a player, coach, administrator and fan. Beautifully written by Press Association journalist and lifelong Leigh fan Andy Hampson, this is nevertheless a story about much more than rugby. Paperback, 256 pages.
Mr Rugby Leigh is the autobiography of￼ Tommy Sale, a rugby league hero, who has devoted more than 80 years of his life to the sport – as a player, coach, administrator and fan. Since his initial involvement as a scoreboard operator for his beloved Leigh at the age of 10, Tommy’s enthusiasm for the 13-a-side code has rarely wavered. He broke into Leigh’s first team as a 20-year-old and became their first post-War captain. Away from the playing action, he spent month after back-breaking month overseeing the construction of the club’s former stadium, Hilton Park. And that dedication continued after retirement when, among a string of other roles, he triggered an audacious bid for all-time great Alex Murphy. Tommy Sale has remained at the heart of the Leigh club into his nineties. He still serves diligently as timekeeper and president. Only the Second World War interrupted Tommy’s love affair with rugby league, and his time at Leigh is punctuated only by a brief stint at Warrington and one glorious, career-defining spell at Widnes. Yet this is a story about much more than rugby. It tells of how one man can go from humble beginnings to being a pillar of society. Tommy Sale overcame an abusive father, survived the horrors of war and suffered intense personal tragedy. He has been a shopkeeper, council official, teacher and headmaster. Told with characteristic warmth and modesty, Mr Rugby Leigh celebrates the life of a rugby league legend.
By Dave Hadfield
With an introduction by Adrian Morley
Despite England’s disappointment, the 2008 Rugby League World Cup in Australia wasn’t all bad. Far from it. For one thing it allowed best-selling sportswriter & broadcaster Dave Hadfield to gather material for Down & Under, his long-awaited follow-up to Up & Over – in which a journey through England’s rugby league land was chronicled. This time, the glamorous world of Australian rugby league comes under the microscope as Hadfield unleashes his wit, wisdom and wanderlust on the land of Ned Kelly and Wally Lewis. A great read? You betcha! Paperback, 216 pages.
Down and Under reviewed in the Independent – Sunday 14 February 2010 By Simon Redfern When it comes to World Cups, rugby league has a long way to go before it can compete with the football equivalent in capturing the imagination of the British public. But the 13-a-side version has its charms, especially if you approach it with an open mind and a well-developed thirst, as did Dave Hadfield of this parish when attending the 2008 tournament in Australia. While events on the pitch get due mention, the real charm lies in Hadfield’s Bill Brysonesque take on the people and places he encounters along the way. His mantra is “Don’t let the rugby spoil the trip,” which is just as well given England’s dismal performances, and he clearly loves Oz. Whether discoursing on the fine distinctions between hoons, larrikins and bogans in the pantheon of Australian layabouts or musing on the country’s unique beer measures, he is an amusing companion, the kind of bloke you’d actively seek out in a pub rather than avoid. Cheers for the book, Dave; the next schooner of grog is on me.