Reviews

  • Recounting a year with Batley, Hannan's aim was to evoke a venerable, small-scale sporting institution in relation to the town around it... but its appeal should extend well beyond league fans. Groundbreaking.

    Guardian's best books of 2017
  • A compelling story... Underdogs is a fascinating account of life outside of the rugby league spotlight and gets beneath the skin of the club, town and sport in a way that's not been done before. Readers won't need to be a fan of Batley or even rugby league to enjoy this. It is a must-read.

    Yorkshire Evening Post
  • Tremendous. I felt I was there, battling with the underdogs against the Championship's big-hitters. It's like Friday Night Lights in West Riding rather than west Texas. Underdogs is a social study of a town as much as a sports book, George Orwell meets George Williams.

    Gavin Willacy, The Guardian
  • A brilliant and fascinating insight into sport at a part-time level: it offers an angle rare in sports books - that of an outsider given an access-all-areas pass to the inner workings of a sporting team over the course of 12 months. And Hannan uses it superbly, providing a detailed look into the life of a modern Championship club not seen before. It's difficult to see any rugby league supporter not turning the pages as quickly as I was - and this is a book that should be enjoyed by others beyond the boundaries of the sport as well.

    Gareth Walker, League Express
  • For a story about a small-town rugby league team, Underdogs contains multitudes. More than a great sports book, it is a gripping and witty insight into a neglected, working-class community struggling to find its place in a changing world. One of the many delights of Underdogs are the colourful characters that populate its pages... The beating heart of the story, though, is the wonderful and ridiculously under-appreciated sport of rugby league. Hannan does a magnificent job of illustrating just how much more intricate this phenomenally tough game is than initially meets the casual observer’s eye. Life-affirming... ultimately Underdogs is about the human spirit at its finest. A richly rewarding read for anyone with even a passing interest in rugby league or sport in general. It is a must-read too for anyone interested in 21st century life in a northern town.

    Paul Knott, Disclaimer Mag

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