MAKING UP THE NUMBERS
MAKING UP THE NUMBERS looks at the Rugby League Challenge Cup from a new perspective. It traces the involvement in the Cup of the clubs that in 1896 were called junior clubs and are now usually referred to as amateur or community clubs. The junior clubs were honorary members of the Northern Union and, along with the senior clubs who were full members, were all able to enter the competition. Once the Cup became established as an annual event, the involvement of the clubs outside the senior professional league was restricted to the few required to ensure that there was always an acceptable number of clubs in the draw for the first round.
The book records changes to the structure of the Challenge Cup and why some of those changes took place but, perhaps more importantly, it recognises some of the clubs and people that have contributed to the history of the competition and whose contribution has never really been acknowledged.
Most of the amateur players that tested themselves against the professionals will have regarded taking part in the Challenge Cup as one of the highlights of their playing career. I wonder how many of the Wigan players who wore the cherry and white hoops at Central Park against Healey Street Adults in 1920 realised that they were playing against a war hero. Thomas Steele, who was on the wing for the Oldham junior club, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917. Our sport often produces heroes on the field but there have very few men who were awarded the highest honour for bravery in wartime who have played rugby league. Thomas Steele took the field against Wigan only three years after receiving twelve wounds in the battle in Mesopotamia when he won his VC. He lived at a time when people who came back from War often did not want to talk about their experiences and simply wished to return to a normal life. It is unlikely, therefore, that his involvement in rugby league was considered significant or important. This is one possible reason why very little is known about Thomas Steele and why I felt it was important to recognise his involvement in rugby league.
The significant giant killing acts achieved by clubs like Beverley, West Hull and Wath Brow Hornets, and the contributions those clubs and many others have made to the folklore and history of this great competition, are also recorded in Making Up The Numbers, perhaps in some cases for the first time in a book about the history of the Cup.
Also included, to complement this story, is a complete record of all the junior/amateur clubs that have played against professional opposition in the Challenge Cup, a list of giant killers, and over forty illustrations.
MAKING UP THE NUMBERS is available from:
ypdbooks.com, Philip Howard Books in Leeds and Rotherham, Amazon and by order from all good bookshops.