Tony Hannan is an author, journalist and publisher, primarily associated with sport and popular culture. A rugby league writer for over 20 years and one-time sports journalist with the Press Association, he is a former editor of Rugby League World magazine and currently editor-at-large of Forty20.
Among his books are On Behalf of the Committee, a comprehensive history of northern comedy from music hall to internet; Being Eddie Waring, a biography of the famous BBC rugby commentator; and Slouching Towards Blubberhouses, a wide-ranging and amusing investigation of Yorkshireness.
Currently spending a year behind the scenes with Batley Bulldogs RLFC, his next book will be published by Transworld in May 2017.
UNDERDOG: KEEGAN HIRST, BATLY AND A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A RUGBY LEAGUE TOWN — Buy it here
One of the founder members in 1895 of what became the Rugby League, Batley was once a thriving centre of commerce, one of the bustling mill towns in the Heavy Woollen District of West Yorkshire. More than 120 years on, times have changed, even if the town’s Victorian buildings remain, but one constant is the importance of the club as the centre of the community. And in 2016, the Batley Bulldogs brought more than their fair share of pride to the town. They were Underdogs, but gave their professional Super League rivals a run for their money in a season that surpassed all expectations.
Given unprecedented access to the team – players, staff and fans – Tony Hannan charts a fascinating year in the life of a lower-league club, of labourers spilling blood and guts on to Batley’s notorious sloping pitch before getting bruised bodies up for work on a Monday morning, of hand-to-mouth existence at the unglamorous and gritty end of British sport. And at their centre is the Bulldogs captain Keegan Hirst, the first rugby league player to come out as gay, and inspirational coach John Kear, just two men in the most colourful cast of characters. It was also a year when the town was plunged into tragedy by the brutal murder of local MP Jo Cox, a great supporter of the club.
Underdogs is more than just a book about Batley though. It is the story of northern working-class culture, past and present, and a report from the front-line of a society struggling to find its identity in a changing world.
PUBLISHER: Bantam Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 18 May 2017
Yorkshire … God’s Own County … The Broad Acres … England’s Texas. A home to many of Britain’s most captivating landscapes and coastlines, not to mention food, literature, history, music, tea, film, sport and beer, when Britain’s largest county and its residents get you in their grip, you are unlikely to escape anytime soon.
Hosts of the Tour de France’s Grand Depart and voted the leading tourist destination in Europe – beating off the likes of Paris, Rome, London (ha!) and Vienna – the eyes of the world are on the White Rose county like never before.
Slouching Towards Blubberhouses is a timely and comical look at a place that is by turns captivating, uncompromising, boastful, blunt and maddeningly self-aware. It will appeal to the chosen ones, who see no point in living anywhere else, and readers who look on in envy – or irritation – from outside.
It gets beneath the eeh bah gum clichés of whippets, clogs, flat caps and moth-eaten wallets to explore what really makes Tykes tick. And it wonders whether coming from Yorkshire still means owt at all in a changing and increasingly diverse 21st century.
So what are you waiting for? Enough with the chelpin’ and get on your bike. We’re off on a right grand Tour de Yorkshireness.
Publisher: Scratching Shed Publishing Ltd
Publication Date: 30 April 2014
— Buy it here.
To those of a certain age, Eddie Waring’s trademark trilby and contorted vowels conjure golden memories of 1970s light entertainment: an era in which a humble rugby-league commentator with a comical accent could line up alongside stars such as Morecambe and Wise. At the height of his success, Waring was regularly referenced on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and imitated by impressionist Mike Yarwood, and he co-hosted ratings smash It’s a Knockout.
Yet, many fellow northerners viewed Waring’s on-screen persona as an embarrassing regional stereotype. To his critics, he was the unwitting stooge of an organisation riddled with class snobbery and rugby-union bias, dedicated to keeping the 13-a-side code and, by extension, the north of England in its place. The truth was far less simple.
Being Eddie Waring reveals how Waring was a true sporting pioneer whose influence is still being felt more than 20 years after his death. Containing first-hand accounts from those who worked with Waring and knew him best, this book traces his childhood years in poverty-stricken Dewsbury through to his final days blighted by illness and shrouded in mystery. In doing so, it reveals a talented, pugnacious man who took rugby league into the nation’s living rooms like no one before or since.
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; First Edition edition
Publication Date: 3 Jan. 2008
ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE: A HISTORY OF NORTHERN COMEDY – Buy it here
From the Industrial Revolution to our own digital age – via music hall, Variety, working men’s clubs, radio, cinema & television – northern-born comedians have been at the heart of British popular culture.
This witty and informative book investigates why that should be so, while also celebrating the contributions of such household favourites as George Formby, Gracie Fields, Al Read, Frank Randle, Hylda Baker, Jimmy Clitheroe, Les Dawson, Morecambe & Wise, Victoria Wood, Vic and Bob, Steve Coogan, Caroline Aherne, Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay along the way.
On Behalf of the Committee is a rich reassessment of British comedy history and cliché-free confirmation that you really do have to laugh – or else you’d cry
PUBLISHER: Scratching Shed Publishing Ltd; First Edition edition
PUBLICATION DATE: 20th November 2009