Batley RLFC book signing to coincide with Bulldogs and Rams derby

John Roe with his new book Sermons from the Mount. (D523B451)
John Roe with his new book Sermons from the Mount. (D523B451)
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An author has written a book on Batley RLFC’s history based on interviews with key figures from the club.

An author has written a book on Batley RLFC’s history based on interviews with key figures from the club.

The release of Sermons from the Mount comes ahead of the pre-season derby between the Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams on Boxing Day, when author John Roe will sign copies.

The book is on sale at Amazon.com, Bulldogs home games and could soon be available at Dewsbury Market.

“Obviously that’s enemy territory but if it picks up I might do a signing there”, he said.

Mr Roe, 63, spent 20 months conducting and putting together interviews with ex players and key figures from the club to paint a picture of how the sport has changed.

He was inspired by a West Yorkshire-wide book on rugby league based on interviews, No Sand Dunes in Featherstone, and he believed Sermons from the Mount was the first of its kind to focus on a single club.

Mr Roe, who now lives in Sheffield, played rugby league for Bradford Boys and England under 16s during his teens but gave it up when he was injured at 17.

“I didn’t want to go to university a cripple,” he said.

He said he had to receive special permission from his headteacher at Cardinel Hinsley Grammar School in Tong, Bradford, to play the sport.

“They didn’t care for rugby league at grammar schools because it is associated with the working class. Rugby league’s heartland is the M62 corridor, that’s it’s strength and its weakness.

“Though class is more nuanced now grammar schools did not want to be associated with something as vulgar as rugby league.”

The similarities and differeces in training and facilities reported by players that had moved to bigger clubs from Batley was of particular interest to Mr Roe.

He said: “What was fascinating to me was those players who moved to more prestigious clubs had the same level of training.

“But I can’t even remember there being ladies toilets at Batley in the 60s, not that I had course to use them.”

The former history teacher lived off Commercial Street in Batley until age eight and Prince Street until he left to go to university.

He was eight when he saw his first Batley match.

Sermons from the Mount is available the website of publisher Scratching Shed, Amazon or at Batley home games, priced £13.99.