By Tony Collins

Referred to as ‘the maximum online game of all’ by way of its supporters yet frequently neglected through the cultural mainstream, no game is extra pointed out with England’s northern operating classification than rugby league. This booklet lines the tale of the game from the Northern Union of the 1900s to the formation of the tremendous League within the Nineteen Nineties, via battle, melancholy, growth and deindustrialisation, right into a new financial and social age. utilizing more than a few formerly unexplored archival resources, this super readable and deeply researched publication considers the impression of 2 global wars, the importance of the game’s growth to Australasia and the momentous determination to take rugby league to Wembley. It investigates the heritage of rugby union’s long-running conflict opposed to league, and the sport’s afflicted courting with the nationwide media. most significantly, this e-book sheds new mild on problems with social type and working-class masculinity, neighborhood id and the profound impression of the decline of Britain’s conventional industries. For all these drawn to the heritage of activity and working-class tradition, this can be crucial examining.

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44 This would suggest that, at the very least, pro-war enthusiasm was not as widespread or as uniform as has previously been believed, and that this was reflected to some extent by the attitudes shown towards remembrance by the Northern Union, and perhaps also the Football League. When the war was mentioned after 1918 it was generally at international matches, when the links between the competing nations during the war were referred to as a sign of international friendship. For example, when Warrington hosted a visit by the pioneering French club Villeneuve in 1934, an article in the match programme pointed out that: There was no question of amateurism or professionalism in the Great War.

Wool, its equivalent in the towns of the West Riding, also saw its exports fall precipitously. Coal, whose relationship with rugby league ran like a black seam through the heart of the game – in 1922 many clubs had opposed a proposal to bring forward kick-off times because it would mean matches starting before miners’ shifts had ended – witnessed a calamitous fall in exports to just one-third of their 1913 level. 2 Addressing the first annual conference of the Rugby Football League in 1922, the chairman, John Counsell of Wigan, highlighted the financial difficulties that the economic depression had brought to the game.

B. 27 No NU player with a services rugby union side expressed a desire to carry on playing union after the war and even W. L. 28 The same appears to be true of spectators in the north – with the exception of the 1916 match at Anfield, none of the rugby union games in the north in which NU players participated attracted larger crowds than the major NU games during the war. 29 * Crowds of such sizes underlined the continuing strength of the NU in its heartlands. Despite the formal suspension of competitions in June 1915, the professional game had continued on a regional basis, organised by the Lancashire and Yorkshire county committees.

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