Wrestling in Honey
The Selected Writings of Martin Kelner
With an introduction by Gary Lineker
PUBLISHED APRIL 30 – PRE-ORDER NOW
‘By popular demand’ is one of those phrases like ‘we must do lunch’ and ‘your delivery will arrive between 9.00am and 10.00am’ that we have learned to take with a pinch of salt.
But in the case of the pieces in this book it is arguably true.
Admittedly, we only have the author’s word for it, but he swears that barely a week goes by – okay, a fortnight – without him receiving an email or a Tweet asking why an adoring public can’t enjoy his gimlet-eyed take on broadcast sport and addiction to half-remembered street jokes in the press or online these days.
The answer is that the current broadcasting landscape means we are all streaming madly or scrolling through our phones at different times, meaning a joke about the late football commentator John Motson’s jacket, which might have played to an appreciative audience of millions a decade ago, might now evince no more than a puzzled frown.
However, on rescuing these pieces from the dustbin of history – Martin’s laptop actually – there seemed merit in the view that a half-decent joke is a half-decent joke whenever it’s told. We think there are a few in this collection.
Where possible we have tried to supply a bit of context, and there are fragments of memoir too, previously unpublished, for anyone interested in the author’s ‘journey’ – as publishers seem contractually obliged to call everybody’s life these days.
We need a laugh in these difficult times – unless there’s been a recent economic miracle, in which case disregard. The good news is that age has not withered those in this long-awaited volume, nor custom staled their not quite infinite variety.
Who Framed William Webb Ellis?
(…and other puzzles in rugby history)
By Tony Collins
Did a schoolboy named William Webb Ellis really invent rugby two hundred years ago in 1823?
It’s a myth – but has always been a major part of the game, emerging in the culture wars that led to rugby’s great split of 1895.
The debate between league and union is endless. Which rugby code can claim to be the authentic version? Who has rightful claim to the original British Lions? Why did rugby league become the dominant code in Australia? How come it isn’t the premier code in Wales?
There are endless puzzles on the pitch too. Why does union follow football and have a throw-in? What’s the role of the drop-goal in the modern age? And what are the reasons for the decline of scrums?
In Who Framed William Webb Ellis?, award-winning professor of history Tony Collins uncovers and explains these and many more such enigmas surrounding rugby.
He reveals, for example, that rugby was once far more popular than football, that Manchester was a hotbed of the oval ball, and that Leeds United owes its existence to a rugby league club.
So what did happen that meant soccer and not rugby ultimately became the world game?
Based on episodes of his Rugby Reloaded podcast, Collins also explores the culture of rugby, and looks at Tom Brown’s School Days, the 19th-century equivalent of Harry Potter, 1960s kitchen sink movie classic This Sporting Life, the mysterious ‘Battle of the Roses’ painting, and even a Sherlock Holmes detective story.
If you’ve ever had a question about rugby history, then this is the book you need to read.
Paul ‘The Beaver’ Trevillion
A STORY OF SOCK TAGS AND SELF-BELIEF
As told to Neil Jeffries
Foreword by Allan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke
Imagine a world without ‘Marching On Together’, sock tags and Target Balls…
Imagine a world in which pre-match warm-ups and football shirts with the player’s name on the back never existed…
Imagine a world without Paul ‘The Beaver’ Trevillion… and that would be today’s world.
Although first and foremost an artist, Paul ‘The Beaver’ Trevillion is a man with brilliant ideas. His long career has introduced him to all the world’s leading sportsmen, as well as royalty and politicians, and given him unique insights, drive and self-belief.
Those qualities and ideas he took to Don Revie in 1972, aiming to improve the image of the club and bring the players closer to the fans. Inventions such as sock tags, Target Balls and a hit single that became an anthem are remembered and loved to this day. New concepts including pre-match warm-ups and putting a player’s name across his shoulders proved Trevillion was decades ahead of his time.
In fact everything he suggested worked and together his efforts turned Leeds United into the world’s first modern day football club. And it only took him 50 days. Now, 50 years later, all the incredible secrets of that brief but unforgettable time are revealed…
Size – 218 x 22 x 284. Hardback – 176 pages
The History of Schools’ Rugby League in Leeds
by Steve Boothroyd
From the early Cup-winning Bramley National and Hunslet Carr teams, through some outstanding Hunslet and Leeds representative sides, to the modern-day national girls’ champions from Corpus Christi, there is a rich and proud history of schools’ rugby league in the city of Leeds.
The History of Schools’ Rugby League in Leeds catalogues the story of the game in words and photographs – reflecting on the changes, highlighting influential teacher-coaches and administrators, and of course focusing on the many schools and teams that have played the sport since the first organised competitions in the early part of the twentieth century.
Rugby League: A People’s History
CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK
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.