There have been a number of autobiographies published over the last few years on notable ex-Rovers players. The thoughts and words of Ikram Butt, Iestyn Harris, Jeff Grayshon, Paul Newlove, and even as far back as Terry Clawson have all found their way into print. Today we look at the work of a current player, scrum-half Jamie Rooney. His autobiography ‘High Ambitions’ was published in hardback version in 2009, and therefore covers the period up until things began to go wrong at Wakefield. Since publication Jamie has played for Barrow, Limoux, South Wales and Whitehaven, so perhaps when he finishes playing the book will be updated to include the end of his career. As it is, his story so far as told in this book has been very interesting, as a lot of things have happened to him since he first started playing.
As we all know Jamie began at Featherstone, straight from school and his early days at Post Office Road are covered in some detail, how he was signed by David Ward, came into the first team under Steve Sims and established himself under Peter Roe. In four years at Featherstone as our first choice scrum-half and goal-kicker he certainly made his mark, and it is obvious from the way he writes that Jamie maintains a great affection for his home-town club.
The on/off possible transfers to both Castleford and Widnes which never materialised left an impression on him, and once he got to Super League at Wakefield he made a significant impact in the top flight. Representing England was certainly a high point of his playing career, as was helping Wakefield to stay up in 2006 when their ‘miracle’ escape sent Castleford down. The low point would be when he was surprisingly dropped for Wakefield 2008 Challenge Cup semi-final.
What sets Jamie Rooney’s story apart from many other sporting autobiographies is that he has such an interesting off-field story to tell. When his first born son Brennan was born with cerebral palsy it dramatically changed the life of Jamie and all his family. This book therefore represents not only the ups and downs of Jamie’s life as a rugby league professional, but also is an insight into how life has been for his family these past few years. It tells of the struggles and the triumphs, as well as the determination and strength with which Jamie and his wife have confronted everything that has been thrown at them. He manages to convey very well how his son has allowed him to place everything that happens on the rugby field into context, and as such the book has a value which goes beyond the potted history of a playing career.