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The Rave Review - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 07 Sep 2007 13:49:00 GMT
The first century of Rugby League in Australia is backslapped in a timely new book written by veteran journalist Ray Chesterton called 100 years of Rugby League.

Like the action out on the field, the history covered moves at a split-second pace and varies it’s focus between players, memorable season’s and events that were both good and bad for the 13-man-code.

A quick, detailed publication which is a reliable odometer for how far the game has come since winger Jack Scott scored the very first try of the new code in a game played between Easts and Newtown on Monday, April 20, 1908.


Don’t be afraid to go back into your nearest book shop to give this new release a test read . This is not another plain, encyclopedic style regurgitation of League’s heritage.

Chesterton does add sensible, carefully weighted judgements on the facts while resourcefully bringing back to life some colourful, amusing past commentary.

The verdict of The Referee on the team fielded by Glebe against Balmain in a 1917 fixture is an appropriate example of the entertaining value readers will be able to glimpse.

“It might have been better in the circumstance (Note: Glebe was beaten 40-9) to have adhered strictly to the decision and allow the match to go by forefeit.

The game was farcical. They had backs in the forwards and forwards in the backs and second graders galore.”

The renowned tabloid journalist also imposes some fascinating, thought provoking theories though not always officially verifiable.

“It was perhaps the culmination of Glebe’s feistiness and autocratic ways that, when it needed friends in high places in 1929 to stay in the premiership, it was evicted by 13 votes to 12 despite a record of competitive performances.”

Coach Chesterton won’t please readers with all of his chosen subjects.

A glaring omission in the top 10 grand finals chapter is the 2006 Grand Final between Melbourne and Brisbane.

With no Sydney team involved in the end of season thriller for the first time since the Grand Final evolved in 1954, genuine fears of empty seats inside Telstra Stadium came to life.

Critics didn’t believe Melbourne had enough core fans willing to travel up the Hume highway while Sydney supposedly didn’t have the stomach to support either side.

In the end, 79,609 fans turned up to see plenty of records broken on Sunday October 1, 2006 with most of NSW rooting for Melbourne.

The minor premiers continued to be cursed in what was quite literally the ‘greatest game of all’ while Broncos coach Wayne Bennett took over from Jack Gibson as League’s coaching king by picking up his 6th NRL premiership.

League’s enthusiasm to challenge it’s traditional image as a two state code will be an important step forward in the next 100 years and that Grand Final helped pave the way. This is why it's omission is unusual.

The top ten compilations in the book are neither right or wrong. They are as the author states a ‘personal selection.’


A worthwhile read for your kids or grandchildren who might be on the verge of taking up the greatest game of all themselves in the role of either fans, players or hopefully both.
Truly this is a once in a life-time record when you consider that none of us (author included) will be around to endulge in it’s sequel…200 years of Rugby League.”

100 years of Rugby League by Ray Chesterton is published by Hachette Australia and is available in all good leading book shops for $35 original paperback. Don't delay getting yourself a copy before it runs out of stores everywhere faster then Billy Slater down the short side. - Read More, Here