Interviews

The Rugby League Gazette

Over the years numerous newspapers and magazines have circulated in the rugby league community, bringing different opinions on the game as well as team news.

The Rugby Leaguer served the rugby league fan on a weekly basis for over fifty years, before (in 2002) succumbing to League Publications Ltd which published its rival League Express. However, almost immediately a replacement weekly newspaper was born in League Weekly, and comment and match reports were again available to fans through two rival publications.

Other publications were also available during the long lifespan of the Rugby Leaguer. One of the most influential of these was Open Rugby. Once described as a ‘ground breaking publication in the world of rugby league Open Rugby achieved somewhat of a cult status during its lifetime from 1976–1998. This reputation stemmed largely from its origins as a fanzine and although Open Rugby grew to become a high quality glossy magazine the characteristic enthusiasm and progressive outlook of its creator Harry Edgar remained.

The example set by Harry Edgar was followed by a number of Rugby League enthusiasts who produced a variety of fanzines during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Written independently by the fans and for the fans, these home produced publications were usually focused upon individual clubs and boasted a strong editorial personality as well as a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Publications such as Oldham RLFC’s fanzine The Roughyed, and Wakefield Trinity’s Wally Lewis is Coming! found popularity for a time. However, the Rugby League fanzine failed to sustain itself for any great length of time as social and technological changes began to provide alternative outlets through which fans could air their views. The growth and ease of access to the internet, has seen the modern day equivalent of the fanzine in  Rugby League independent supporters’ websites and message boards. These are a place where fans can voice their opinions to an international audience. At Salford, the legacy of the fanzine has even been kept alive and the RLFans.com website has become a new medium through which the club’s fanzine Scarlet Turkey is now published.

Norman Berry’s Rugby League Gazette is also an interesting addition to the rugby league literature of the time. A forerunner of the original Edgar style Open Rugby, in that it was mainly written and published by one man, it can also be compared to Stanley Chadwick’s work of the same period. Berry found a resourceful way of distributing the Gazette through a network of young rugby fans, of which Geoff was one, by circulating it at the ground and outside on match days.