Rugby league Christmas books round-up

Chris BerryChris Berry
Chris Berry
What Dick Francis did for horse racing, Leeds author Chris Berry hopes to achieve with rugby league.

Berry’s first novel, Tough Season, is a thriller detailing the adventures - on and off the pitch - of Greg Duggan, who plays for struggling rugby league side Hopton Town.

The Scholes-based writer, who is a regular contributor to The Yorkshire Post, described the novel as “crime fiction using the game as its backdrop”.

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He said: “Greg’s having a tough season, but things get a lot harder and pretty dramatic for him, his family and the club when a new owner takes over.

An image from Rugby BloodAn image from Rugby Blood
An image from Rugby Blood

“He’s a bit of a ladies’ man too, which causes complications amid the rest of the action on and off the field that leads to murder abduction and steamy scenes.

“You don’t have to be a rugby league fan to enjoy the book, as many have already commented.”

Leeds Rhinos’ Konrad Hurrell and Jake Trueman, of Castleford Tigers, are among the real-life players to feature in Keith Mason’s rugby league comic Rugby Blood.

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Mason, whose playing career included a spell at Wakefield Trinity, struggled with depression and other issues after hanging up his boots.

Now an actor, he began Rugby Blood as a film script, but decided to expand it into comic form to have a “bigger impact”.

He said: By using real players in the comic I wanted to be able to connect with the audience and make the players the heroes.

“Not only will it raise their profile, but also I wanted to raise awareness about the real struggles athletes go through.”

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The central character of Rugby Blood, illustrated by Paul Roper, is David King.

Mason added: “His life is based on my own story, with a hero twist.

“He is a professional rugby league star and entrepreneur. When his family is kidnapped and held for ransom he goes on a blood-fuelled rampage to save them.”

Leeds-based publisher Scratching Shed recently 100 issues of their monthly magazine Forty-20 and have now produced their first annual, which is an extended version of the December edition.

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Contributors include Leeds Rhinos star Stevie Ward and Danika Priim who plays for the club's women's side.

An in-depth study of Bradford Bulls' recent plight is particularly interesting.

(Declaring an interest, this writer has contributed an article on Leeds Rhinos' golden generation).

Essential reading for any13-a-side fanatic is the League Express Rugby League Yearbook 2019-20.

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Now in its 24th year, the book is a comprehensive account of the past 12 months across the entire sport, backed by comprehensive stats.

This yearbook's personalities of 2019 are St Helens' Justin Holbrook, John Bateman (of Great Britain and Canberra Raiders), Jackson Hastings (Great Britain and Salford Red Devils), Gareth O'Brien (Toronto Wolfpack) and Morgan Smithies (England Knightsa and Wigan Warriors).