Book Review: Rugby League Through the Decades, by Ian Collins and Alan Whiticker

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Doesn’t matter what code of ball game you follow, Rugby League, AFL, Rugby or that other footy known simultaneously as football/soccer, if it’s a passion, so is the history.

For some fans, that history might mean a few or so decades in the past tied into playing on field with mates and family team supporter bonding, with added vocal opinions on the current state of the game.

Rugby League Through the Decades does something rather special. It tabulates 100 years of the code’s history in Australia as a new footy form born from English Rugby from 1907-2017. It’s a massive ‘state of the game’ overview, which, in perusal, reveals so many parallels with cultural, sporting and commercial developments across other football codes within that century-long time frame.

That should be enough to entice serious footy nuts with a bent for sizing their favourite code up against another to grab this book. It will not disappoint.

Authors Ian Collis and Alan Whiticker’s intensely researched book overflows with a voluminous amount of primary source material, some never published before.

This treasure trove of photos, mementos and media clips is woven into an absorbing, easy read format somewhere between a pithy postcard and magazine grabs illustrated with league tables you can browse through page to page or decade to decade, with ease and growing wonder as the history tells its story.

The politics of an amateur sporting culture transitioning to a professional play is gripping stuff in the fashion that the authors offer it. From the seed of those beginnings, it is the evolution pretty much of developments any fan of multiple codes will gasp at in recognition.

Reading this book cover to cover is highly recommended. The understanding of current issues in the code will be deeper for the history informing them. Admiration for the collected body of players who made this history will be greater, faults and all.

Rugby League Through the Decades isn’t just another sport book. It’s an accessible, profoundly considered history.

Reviewed by David O’Brien
Twitter: @DavidOBupstART

Rating out of 10:  10

Distributed by: New Holland Publishers
Released: July 2018
RRP: $60 hardcover

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Smashing

Authors Ian Collis and Alan Whiticker’s intensely researched book overflows with a voluminous amount of primary source material, some never published before. Rugby League Through the Decades isn’t just another sport book. It’s an accessible, profoundly considered history.

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