League Express editor MARTYN SADLER reviews the latest Rugby League book to hit the bookshelves.
My colleague Richard de la Rivière used to be the editor of Rugby League World magazine and he currently writes the ‘On This Day’ column for League Express.
So he’s obviously interested in both the history and geography of Rugby League.
And, in pursuing those interests, he has written one of the most intriguing Rugby League books I have ever had the privilege to read.
First of all, I have of course to declare an interest.
League Publications is the publisher of ‘100 Days that Shook Rugby League’.
But when Richard pitched the idea of the book to me, I soon realised that it was likely to be a winning idea.
In writing it he has selected 100 events in the history of the game that he believes had a massive impact in one way or another on Rugby League generally.
They are his personal choices, and part of the pleasure of reading the book comes from deciding in your own mind whether you would have made the same choices that he has.
The book has a terrific foreword by the legendary Alex Murphy, who inevitably features in several of the chapters.
Historically it starts with the British Lions tour in 1888, when there was still only one code of rugby and the captain, Robert Seddon, who played with Swinton, drowned in the Hunter River.
The final chapter covers Salford’s amazing Million Pound Game victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in 2016, which, as Richard suggests, usurped Chris Joynt’s ‘Wide to West’ try as modern Rugby League’s most incredible on-field moment.
But there are plenty of other amazing moments covered in this book, some of which everyone will know, and some of which we will perhaps be reading about for the first time.
Of course we can all look back and remember those matches or incidents at which we were present.
The earliest one in my case is the 1968 Challenge Cup Final, when the ‘Poor Lad’ Don Fox missed that conversion attempt from in front of the posts.
Another game that features in the book that I remember vividly is the first game ever played by Fulham, on 14 September 1980, when the newly created London team defeated Wigan 24-5 at Craven Cottage in front of 9,552 spectators.
I still remember coming out of the stadium after the match, listening to people with London accents remarking how much they had enjoyed the game and that they would be back for more.
I would never have imagined on that day that London Broncos would struggle so much over the subsequent years to maintain its presence in our capital city.
The book tells the story of great matches, landmark decisions, terrible injuries, some of them involving tragic deaths, power struggles off the field and great players doing remarkable things.
And that’s just for starters.
This is a book you can read chapter by chapter and never put down. It’s the perfect companion to have at your side while watching the World Cup.
It’s available direct from League Publications via our website totalrl.com.