A book written by a Ribble Valley-base author has been shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards.
“The Mud the Beer and the Rugb”y is the first book written by John Collier, who has been a member of Burnley (formerly Calder Vale) Rugby Club for many years and now lives at Waddington.
While the book is about amateur rugby, it is not intended to be a factual or historical account of any particular club. Its purpose is to make use of the game’s wealth of humorous material from both on and off the pitch to raise some laughs, and also to raise money for the Injured Players Foundation, a charity which looks after players from all levels who suffer serious spinal injuries and which researches into injury prevention.
Seen through the author’s eyes as a young soccer enthusiast, rugby is a crazy game, but after a chance incident draws him in there is no escape from the mud, the beer and the rugby. Nor does he want to escape because he is having so much fun. He meets some colourful characters and lives to tell his and their tales through a series of stories which bring out the camaraderie and humour which are characteristic of the game.
Former England and British Lions captain Bill Beaumont has contributed a foreword to the book, which Will Greenwood, a member of the England 2003 World Cup-winning squad has described as “the perfect antidote to the self-absorption of the international game”. Will’s father Richard, who also captained England in his day, rates it as “the funniest and most accurate evocation of the real grass-roots game since the Art of Coarse Rugby”, a book which sold over a million copies some years ago.
John is not expecting to emulate the success of Coarse Rugby, but is hoping that the book will sell in sufficient numbers to raise £100,000 for the Injured Players Foundation. He said: “It’s a tall order, but if we can sell an average of 20 copies per club affiliated to the Rugby Football Union we will get there. I also hope people outside rugby, who just enjoy a good laugh, might also buy a copy. It’s not necessary to have any knowledge of the game to see the funny side and quite a few ladies have told me how much they enjoyed it”.
The British Sports Book Awards Ceremony will take place at Lords Cricket Ground on May 21st. John will be accompanied on the trip to London by former international referee Peter Hughes, from Higham, who has also been a member at Burnley for many years and who has been helping John with the fundraising project.
“I’m not expecting to win,” said John. “There are six on the shortlist, including record-breaking Irish international Ronan O’ Gara’s autobiography and books by established writers. But the Awards Ceremony at Lords will be an experience I didn’t expect to be involved in when I was asked if I would like to enter for the Awards. It could be my ‘Andy Warhol’ moment and certainly the nearest I’ll get to the Oscars”.
As a result of the shortlisting leading book wholesalers Gardners have agreed to stock the book, which is now available from all booksellers. However, John points out that more money will be raised for the foundation if the book is purchased through its own website at www.themudthebeerandtherugby.com which is also the place to go if you would like a copy signed by the author, or if you would like to read a sample chapter or two.