This is quite simply one of the most entertaining books on rugby league you could ever wish to read. If you’re going to sit down and write your life story, it helps to have an interesting tale to tell. That is certainly the case for Terry Clawson, who entertains the reader with a whole series of anecdotes from a career which eventually lasted some 23 seasons. The book starts with the dramatic moment when, as a young first team regular at the Rovers, Terry was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was sent to a Sanatorium at Garforth, not knowing whether he would survive this terrible illness or not. Thankfully he quickly recovered and it wasn’t long before he left his hometown team and first love Featherstone and embarked on a journey through a number of clubs including Bradford, Hull KR , Leeds and Oldham. He played in Cup finals and Championship finals, won County and International honours, and wherever he went his deep-seated distrust of everyone and everything that came out of Castleford never left him.
He had far too many career highlights to recount here, but playing and scoring in the 1972 World Cup final would be up there among his greatest achievements. As was touring with Great Britain in 1974. The story of how he conned his way onto that tour after suffering a broken ankle is a gem. It is off the field however where Terry’s story comes to life, whether it is Mal Dixon’s mother’s hangover remedy, walking out of a horrendous car crash, betting on the horses, or the interminable post-match drinking sessions, you end up learning much more about life as a rugby player in the old days than you bargained for.
Towards the end of his career, Clawson emigrated to Newcastle in Australia where his coaching career started. On returning to the UK he picked up his first coaching role in England, appropriately enough with Featherstone. With a cheeky touch of nepotism he selected himself and his son Neil in the same game thus creating a new record for himself. The coaching stint didn’t work out, and Terry is characteristically candid as to why that was. One thing he’s never short of is a strong opinion. In fact the whole book is a refreshing antidote to the usual ghost-written sports biography, which, after a recapitulation of games played, leaves the reader no closer to its subject. In this book however the ready wit and genuine love of rugby league that Terry Clawson has shines through.