‘The Man of All Talents: The Extraordinary Life of Douglas Duggy Clark’ by Steven Bell (2020)

Outside the realm of die-hard rugby league and wrestling history buffs, Duggy Clark is an unknown figure. Within the history of those sports in Britain Clark is a legend. He was among the pioneers of rugby league, championships with Huddersfield and England, and earning a place in the sports Hall of Fame. He was also a champion wrestler (the grappling kind, not the WWE kind!).

Steven Bell, a Huddersfield native, has colourfully and entertainingly brought Clark’s remarkable story to life. The level of research is remarkable, including significant contemporaneous sources and Clark’s own diaries and memoirs. Bell paints a colourful story piece by piece while also placing events in their historical context.

The writing style is unusual for non-fiction, often reading in the style of historical fiction rather than a classic biography. At times I did find myself wondering where the line between pure history and creative licence was exactly but this does nothing to take away from the enjoyment of the book.

Overall this is a fascinating, unique book with a particular appeal to fans of both sports in which Clark excelled. More broadly however it is also a fascinating story told in a captivating manner.

I haven’t read Bell’s previous sports book From Triumph to Tragedy: The Chapecoense Story, about the Brazilian soccer team left devastated by a plane crash, but am definitely adding it to the to read pile!

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