Here at TACKLE COUNT we love all things league. Rugby league shirts, teams and games. We also love reading about it. Here are our 5 favourite rugby league books, presented in no particular order:
Underdogs: Keegan Hirst, Batley and a Year in the Life of a Rugby League Town - Tony Hannan
An amazing book that transcends the sport. A look at politics, class and identity in a small Yorkshire town, and how a rugby league club fits in with that.
The author was given a unique, access-all-areas pass to the team over a season, and doesn't hold anything back. A fascinating insight into the sport at the semi-professional level, and a must for all fans of John Kear's coaching style.
Batley is a town I know well, and the author is very even-handed with how he captures both the good and bad. Through it all, it’s the Batley fans that come across as thoroughly, good, honest, decent people. This book is testament to them.
Up and Over: A Trek Through Rugby League Land - Dave Hadfield
Dave is a doyen of the sport’s writing. In this book he take a hilarious walk around rugby league country. Starting in Hull, Dave takes a route that takes in league clubs big and small.
If you proudly wear the shirt of Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos, Bradford Bulls, Huddersfield Giants, Widnes Vikings, St Helens, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors you’ll find something here of interest.
Funny, nostalgic and touching at the same time, it shines a light on some of the unsung heroes of the sport who fight to keep it in the limelight. And you’ll come away with at least half-a-dozen great anecdotes you can pass off as your own! Thoroughly recommended.
Seasons in the Sun: A Rugby Revolution
This book was published to mark ten years of summer rugby league. I can hardly believe that another ten years (and more) have passed since I first read it.
A collection of writing by some of the sport’s leading proponents highlight the good, bad and the ugly to the summer game. Did you remember that Workington and Paris Saint-Germain took part in Super League 1? How times change...
If you want to know the process and fights that led to the formation of Super League, this is a great introduction (Cas, Wakey and Fev joining up to become 'Calder’ - how did anyone think that was a good idea?!). Increasingly hard to find, but well worth tracking down.
One Summer: Romance, Redundancy and Rugby League in the 1980s - Geoff Lee
Confession time: I found this book in one of those bargain book places that usually sells books about serial killers and fortune telling. For a couple of quid, I thought it was worth the risk. It definitely was.
Set in and around the 1984 miners’ strike, in the fictional town of Ashurst (you don’t need to be Miss Marple to tell that it’s St Helens), you get a feel of the community that builds around a rugby league club.
This is one of four books in the series, each taking in a different decade. Not strictly a rugby league book - more a social history - it’s still a great way to pass a few holiday hours.
Made for Rugby: The Autobiography - Barrie McDermott
As no-nonsense in print as he was on the field, Barrie pulls no punches in his autobiography. The arrests, fights and disciplinary committee meetings are all here.
What this book does do is make you appreciate his sporting achievements of a man with only one eye. Seriously, how can you play the game at the highest level with no depth perception or peripheral view? Incredible.
You don’t want a powder-coated version of someone’s life when you pick an autobiography, and you don’t get one here! All the juicy bits, plenty of funny stories and, ultimately, a demonstration of the values of determination and persistence. After reading, you’ll surely appreciate the man more.
That’s our round-up. We hope you enjoyed. And for all your rugby league shirts and fan apparel, please do check out the TACKLE COUNT shop.