MATTHEW SHAW reviews a book about the recently retired Bradford Bulls star Leon Pryce.
I won’t have been the only one that felt this autobiography had the makings of a book that wouldn’t be out of place at the top table of the sport’s great reads.
Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
Leon Pryce has never been one to mince his words, nor has he been out of the headlines during a career that is comparable to some of the game’s greatest players.
Pryce has felt the elation of some incredible highs during his career, while he has also suffered some excruciating lows on and off the field.
All of these tales are documented superbly in his book “Pryceless”, a 200-page plus story packed with hilarious anecdotes, predominantly from his Bradford and St Helens days, along with some hard-hitting tales about his life as a child and some major shocks before his rugby career even started.
This book was meant to be my companion on a quick getaway to Tenerife. Unfortunately, by the time we’d landed on the sunny island I was on the last chapter. I’d managed to put it down for a complimentary ham and cheese roll.
The most entertaining aspect of this book was the hilarious stories of the now famous ‘Yorkshire Bus’, but more so fantastic tales from his time at Bradford, particularly including the legendary winger Lesley Vainikolo that had me in hysterics on the flight, much to the embarrassment of my partner.
There are also some brilliant tales from the Great Britain tour of 2006 and one story that recalls the day he was truly stitched up on the St Helens training field.
But beyond that, the recollection of his past offers great insight into his upbringing. Not only does Leon provide previously unknown facts about his life, but they help understand his character and why the well-publicised court issues that threatened to ruin his career came to the fore.
Keeping the book flowing nicely are a number of ‘Tributes’ from some of his most well-known team-mates, including Robbie Hunter-Paul and Sean Long. While some do reinforce the same messages, they certainly emphasise Pryce’s qualities as a person.
Beyond that, the book ends on his return to Bradford and the awful period the Bulls players endured with the club’s future truly at risk.
Just as he is in person, Pryce recalls the period in brutally honest fashion, going over the whole timeline of events in great detail. His premature retirement is unfortunate. The timing of the release meant that couldn’t be included and it would have made for more great reading, but as time passes by it will do little to dampen a thoroughly enjoyable book.
Overall, ‘Pryceless’ is a brilliant book that does justice to one of the biggest, and most successful, characters of his generation.
‘Pryceless: The Leon Pryce Story’, is available to purchase from all good bookshops now. It can also be purchased online at www.gnbooks.co.uk. RRP £17.99