Rugby league novel is thriller on and off the pitch

Chris Berry
Chris Berry

A former rugby league magazine editor is hoping his foray into fiction will prove a hit with borough bookworms who love the 13-man code.

Chris Berry has penned Tough Season, a crime thriller set against the backdrop of fictional club Hopton Town struggling in the sport’s basement division and featuring loose forward Greg Duggan as the central character.

It is believed to be the first novel in the genre with an RL setting and Chris says he was influenced by the way Dick Francis used his love of horse racing as the setting for his bestselling books.

Chris is now hoping Wigan’s extraordinary passion for rugby league will propel his novel off the shelves and says fans from the town may well find some aspects of the characters and situations familiar.

He said: “I’ve been to Wigan’s ground many times, like others across the country, and I’ve tried to get a flavour of what it’s like to be around people who play the

game.

“There are things that Wigan fans and Wigan people will get a lot out of in the book but it’s not just for readers who also love rugby league.

“I wasn’t specifically thinking of players like Denis Betts or Andy Farrell but I’ve known the players and seen the games over the years so people will see little reflections in there.

“There’s an Aussie player in the book called Kenny Lomax and I might have been thinking of a tousled-haired player from Balmain Tigers in Australia who ended up as a scrum half for

Wigan.

“One of the things I base the story on is rugby league’s enthusiasm for constantly changing how many teams are in the Super League and how promotion and relegation works.

“One of the characters might possibly relate to somebody who was near the top of rugby league and had a connection to Wigan as well.”

Tough Season offers readers a gripping mixture of corruption, crime and romance as Greg finds himself in a pretty difficult situation when a new owner takes over

Hopton.

Chris said: “There’s a lot goes on in rugby league. It’s not just the players, it’s what happens in the boardrooms and in the bedrooms as well.

“Greg’s having a tough season but things get pretty dramatic for him, his family and the club. He’s a bit of a ladies’ man too, which causes complications amid the rest of the action on and off thefield.

“There are abductions, murders and some steamy scenes as well.”

Chris is now penning a follow-up book and says he intends to write a trilogy of novels about Greg’s adventures.

Tough Season hit the top of Amazon’s rugby charts and is now climbing up the ranks in the very popular crime fiction genre too, while reviews for the novel have generally been positive.

The book is available now from bookstores in Wigan or online. Paperbacks are £7.99 and it is also out on Kindle.