We’re thrilled to announce that Hope and Glory: Rugby League in Thatcher's Britain has been longlisted for the 2023 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the world’s oldest and most valuable sports-writing prize.

Hope and Glory author Anthony Broxton said: ‘It is an honour to be longlisted for this historic prize that has done so much to advance sports writing over the years. 

‘I believe it is a testament to the vibrancy of rugby league in the 1980s and to the colorfulness of the characters who changed the very nature of British sport. It was my pleasure to bring their stories to life for a new audience. 

‘My thanks go to Pitch for believing that rugby league is a sport worthy of wider examination. I hope that it inspires more books about the game, the north, and the social history of the working class.’

Now in its 35th year, the award acknowledges and rewards excellence in sports writing. This year’s winner’s prize is £30,000 and a trophy, while shortlisted authors receive £3,000 and a leather-bound copy of their book. 

The longlisted titles will be whittled down to a shortlist in late October, with the winner announced on 30 November.  

Hope and Glory

Hope and Glory recreates the extraordinary era of Thatcherite Britain with the dramatic tension of a novel, revealing it as a critical moment in rugby league history when despite losing everything, anything seemed possible.

Rugby league should never have survived Thatcher’s Britain. As the sport of the working class, the expectation was that rugby league would suffer the same fate as the textile mills, factories and coal mines that once surrounded it. Having declined in the 1970s, the sport appeared to be at the point of no return in 1982, when the Australian team destroyed any remaining illusions of ‘British exceptionalism’.

But as it often does, rugby league found a way to turn itself around. From the pit villages which fought industrial decline to the players who ushered in the new professional era, the 1980s was the decade when rugby league finally came of age. By the 1990s, there was an optimism that it could even replace football as the global game for the 21st century.

Praise for Hope and Glory

‘A timely book... Broxton is a superb and sympathetic chronicler of how this happened.’ - Patrick Kidd, The Times

‘Brilliant, illumintive. Hope and Glory is a literary triumph for rugby league chronicling the sport's rise in defiance of industrial decay.’ - Chris Irvine, former rugby league correspondent for The Times

‘A terrific read, Immense work and research has clearly gone into this fantastic account.’ - Adrian Durham, TalkSPORT

Hope and Glory perfectly captures an era of immense change, opportunity and upheaval. A must-read not only for rugby league fans but for those interested in politics, history and marketing.’ - John Davidson, The i newspaper

‘Fascinating...If Labour are looking for advice perhaps they could read this book.’ - Patrick Maguire, Times Radio

‘A great time for this book to come out... a generation scarred by Thatcherism living to see the glory days come back.’ - Paul Mason author of Postcapitalism

‘Gripping account of rugby league's improbable resurgence in the face of industrial collapse in Thatcher's Britain. A book that is not just for rugby league fans.’ - Brian Groom, author of Northerners

 ‘A must-read not only for rugby league fans but for those interested in politics, history and marketing.’ - John Davidson, i newspaper

‘Rugby league's working class heritage is intertwined with the events of the 1970s and 1980s, from punk rock to rebellion and riots’ - Steve Brady, Catalan Media

‘An interesting read, although it will leave you thinking of what might have been for rugby league.’ - Martyn Sadler, League Express

Reader Reviews

‘THE best book on Rugby League that I have ever read… I've been reading books on this sport for 35 years, but this one really is the gold standard.’

‘I lived through these times and enjoyed every minute of the book, yet younger people and those without an RL background will find it a fascinating topic.’

‘A social and sporting masterpiece… It is a sports book, a history book and a salutary lesson for those that govern in sports today. He doesn't just prick some myths surrounding the game and society in that era, he blows them up.’

 ‘Amazing introduction to Rugby League… I found this an incredible book for someone who is not familiar with the history of the sport and the history of the north in the 1980s.’

‘Phenomenal… A captivating read, chronicling the ebbs and flows of a sport I knew little about until now.’

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