REVIEW: Three Fartown Aussies: Hunter, Cooper, Devery, by David Gronow

Neil Barraclough

His open-necked shirts, ripped jeans and leather jacket have made Nathan Brown one of the most recognisable Super League coaches. But the quotable Australian, who is the overseas recruit to have had perhaps the single biggest impact on Huddersfield during the summer era, is just the latest in a long line of Aussie imports to the club they used to call Fartown.

Club historian David Gronow’s latest book on the Giants, Three Fartown Aussies: Hunter, Cooper, Devery, celebrates the contribution made by those men who used to travel to the north of England seeking fame and fortune.

Winger Lionel Cooper would only sign for an English club if he could bring a friend to help him settle into life in the UK. Plenty of clubs were keen on Cooper, but few were willing to risk funding another Aussie – the relatively unknown Johnny Hunter – until Huddersfield took a punt on the Antipodean duo.

And along with Pat Devery, a man who was to become the club’s captain, they formed the most formidable trio in Fartown’s all-conquering team of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Gronow traces the arrival of the trio through to Devery’s retirement due to a groin injury, Cooper’s farewell and Hunter’s completion of 10 years with the club.

There’s also a moving section of tributes from figures including Harry Sunderland and Brian Bevan, as well as a definitive statistical breakdown of the trio’s achievements – and there were plenty of them.

Cooper managed a staggering 420 tries in 336 games between 1946 and 1955, both Devery and Cooper were capped three times by Australia, and Hunter excelled all across the back line during a decade at Fartown.

This is Gronow’s third book on Huddersfield, and he can be proud of his efforts. An interesting read for any readers interested in rugby league’s post-war era.

Three Fartown Aussies: Hunter, Cooper, Devery, by David Gronow, is out now. ISBN 978-1903659625, published by London League Publications Ltd. Buy now and save on the cover price.

(This review first appeared in the July 2012 issue of Forty-20 magazine.)