REVIEW: The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE, by Maurice Bamford

Neil Barraclough

Only a select group of British rugby league personalities have been recognised with an honour from the Queen.

The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE tells the tale of how a Yorkshire lad rose from Batley High School to Buckingham Palace, stopping off at Dewsbury, Cronulla, Bradford, Leeds, Featherstone and Batley on the way.

During a remarkable career that eventually came to an end at the unbelievable age of 45 – at least 10 years more than most of today’s rugby league players manage – Grayshon established a reputation as a powerful forward who could split the tightest of defences with his exemplary distribution.

His career lasted so long that he even played opposite his son, Paul, during a Featherstone v Bradford fixture.

“Bradford kicked off after a Featherstone try and Jeff was stationed on the touchline about 20 yards inside his own half. The kick went high and Jeff took the ball just as Paul arrived. Paul caught his dad in the ribcage and knocked Jeff arse over tit onto the muddy ground where he slid on his backside until he was stopped by thudding into the advertising boards around the ground. Jeff sat there, the wind taken out of his sails, and stood directly above him was this experienced, mature former miner puffing on his Woodbine. Looking down on Jeff he said without a flicker of emotion, ‘If I were thee, Jeff, I’d smack his arse and send him to bed.'”

Among the photographs included in The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE is an image of the father-and-son pair after that match, as well Grayshon and his wife, Sue, outside Buckingham Palace after receiving his MBE award.

Author Maurice Bamford researched the book with help from both Sue and Jeff, meaning some of the detail captured is particularly poignant.

Starting back in Jeff’s school days, through to his marriage at 17 and his £4 a week wage as an apprentice pipe fitter, Bamford reveals much of the previously unknown about Grayshon’s life.

A detailed appendix also gives full team lists from a number of the most important and high profile matches of Grayshon’s career, something that is sure to stir the memories of those who watched Grayshon and his peers at their pomp.

The Warrior: Jeff Grayshon MBE, by Maurice Bamford, is out now. ISBN 978-1904091486, published by Vertical Editions. It is available to buy here.