REVIEW: Coming Clean, by Terry Newton and Phil Wilkinson

Neil Barraclough

Terry Newton’s death was the most upsetting, gut-wrenching rugby league story of 2010.

Now Coming Clean, Newton’s autobiography that was published just weeks beforehand, stands as one of the most poignant sporting books in recent memory.

Newton had his troubles. But he was undoubtedly one of the finest hookers to grace Super League.

Leeds, Wigan, Bradford, Wakefield and Great Britain all benefited from his guile, guts and determination – not to mention his craft around the play-the-ball.

Coming Clean is Newton’s story, from signing for Warrington as a 14-year-old through to the day a letter arrived from UK Sport notifying him that he had become the first athlete in world sport to test positive for human Growth Hormone (hGH).

“I read the letter again. And nearly dropped through the f***ing floor. I was devastated. A hollow, nauseous feeling started in my gut and spread throughout me. ‘This can’t be happening,’ I thought. ‘It’s HGH, it can’t be detected.’ I started panicking. It felt like I was drowning. I bent over the kitchen table like I’d been hit in the ribs, trying to take in deep breaths. It’s a cliché, but it was as if my whole world was collapsing around me.”

The outpouring of emotion and grief at Newton’s death said much about how highly regarded he was.

And that is perfectly illustrated in Brian Carney’s foreword:

“How do I best describe Terry Newton? He’s one-third pantomime villain, one-third loving father and friend, one-third cage-fighter, and one-third Del Boy.

And that sums up Terry’s mathematical skills for you!”

Newton will be long remembered by all those who knew him, worked with him or watched him play on rugby pitches around the world. Coming Clean is a lasting memory of a man who has gone too soon.

Coming Clean‘, by Terry Newton and Phil Wilkinson, is out now. ISBN 978-1904091479, published by Vertical Editions. It is available to buy here.