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No Helmets Required: The Remarkable Story of the American All Stars Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 May 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd; First edition (1 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909178470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909178472
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 610,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"An outstanding effort by Gavin Willacy. No Helmets Required should be a contender for the Sports Book of the Year award." --Martyn Sadler, editor League Express

"No Helmets Required is a terrific piece of work by Gavin Willacy. It is made especially relevant by the swashbuckling achievements of Terry Matterson's Tomahawks in the World Cup... Their on and off-field scrapes are recalled in fascinating style, with an enormous number of photographs and press cuttings bringing the story to life in vivid fashion." --Daily Mail rugby league reporter Neil Barraclough

"A fantastic book. An absolutely fascinating story with some great cameos, and real characters among them. It's a terrific book." --Dave Woods, BBC Radio 5 Live

"It's really exciting when a story comes from nowhere. This is movie material. I can't believe if Russell Crowe reads it he wouldn't be interested in making a film of it. A cracking read." --Paul Hawksbee, talkSPORT

"Brilliant. A superb book, highly recommended." --Gareth Walker, The People

"A superb book. Retold in a gripping and unique manner. Absolutely staggering... littered with fascinating and unique insights. Highly recommended for any rugby league fan and even non-followers of the sport could not fail to be captivated." --Rugby League World

"A fascinating story told in complete detail and with tremendous panache in a compelling new book. Willacy spent a decade researching one of rugby league's great forgotten stories. The result is an excellent account in a beautifully designed book which makes a thoroughly entertaining read." --Yorkshire Evening Post

"Gavin Willacy has produced a stunner of a book, one which I cannot praise enough for its originality and interest. A book which superbly tells of a unique and fascinating event. This true yet almost unbelievable story is told in detail. Any rugby league devotee will relish his tale and won't put it down." --League Weekly

"Brilliant. An amazing story of Mike Dimitro and US rugby league. A great story from any perspective. Damon Runyon meets Eddie Waring! Rugby book of 2013?" -Professor Tony Collins, RFL historian

"I've never seen a book like it." --Ian Ramsdale, BBC London

"I loved it. It's an amazing book, one of the most enjoyable I've read. It's sensational what these guys did." --Ray French, BBC Radio Merseyside

"Gavin Willacy has done a mighty job; the presentation is wonderfully unique and this book is as colourful as the uniforms of the All Stars. It is quite incredible to be now able to read about it, told first-hand by those members of the All Stars team who made that great adventure happen. There's no doubt that this book fills what was previously a huge gap in the telling of international rugby league history." --Harry Edgar, Rugby League Journal

There have been several candidates for the greatest rugby league story never told... for sheer off-beat fascination though, there is nothing to beat the story of the American All Stars of 1953, and Gavin Willacy has done them more than justice by shining a light into a dark corner. No Helmets Required took him ten years to research and write and it shows, because it is a magnificent piece of work. A fitting memorial to a gang of young men, Willacy tells their story vividly and makes it a satisfying read which I would recommend to any enthusiast. A word for the designer too it's a terrific looking tome." --Dave Hadfield, Forty-20 magazine

"No Helmets Required is an amazing story, one I've never heard before and I love it when that happens. It's a fantastic book." --Matt Williams, Simon Mayo Drivetime, BBC Radio 2

"It sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. Truly remarkable. The layout is absolutely beautiful: unlike anything I've ever seen in a sports book." --James Deighton, BBC Radio Leeds

"An outstanding effort by Gavin Willacy. No Helmets Required should be a contender for the Sports Book of the Year award." --Martyn Sadler, Editor League Express

About the Author

Gavin Willacy is the author of three previous sports books including Rugby League Bravehearts - The History of Scottish Rugby League. A sports reporter for 20 years, Gavin now works in sports management and writes freelance for titles such as Rugby League World, League Express, When Saturday Comes, The Sunday Times and The Independent.


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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A really fascinating book. One of the many lost opportunities for rugby league internationally, Gavin Willacy has researched this fully to show that the USA really could have been a breakthrough for the sport.

I also thought I knew a fair bit about the history of the game but had no idea that a second, largely different USA team, also toured France.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been looking forward to the arrival of this book for some time. I knew a few anecdotes about the All Stars tour of 1953, but this book is a goldmine of facts and memories.

They could make a film of the 1953 tour on its own. Mike Dimitro, a former sporting prodigy turned charismatic hustler/promoter, sold the Australian and New Zealand Rugby League administrators the concept of a tour by American Football players, without having either the funding or the players at the time. There followed a frantic scramble for dollars and bodies, and Dimitro only just made it. His assurances that he had plenty of players with Rugby League training were, to be frank, hogwash.

Upon arrival in Australia, the small, hastily-assembled squad were given a crash course in the rules of Rugby League. Some had had a little experience of Rugby Union, but none had ever played the 13-man game and few had even watched it. They were then thrown into a brutal non-stop itinerary and an almost vertical learning curve, but their athletic conditioning and willingness to put their bodies on the line saw performances improve as the tour went on. They even won a few matches, and enthralled the Antipodean public on and off the pitch.

In 1954, amazingly, Dimitro managed to put together an almost all-new All Stars squad and took them to play in France. The book covers this tour too, and the years following the two tours when attempts were made to get Rugby League off the ground in the US market. Incompetence, intransigence and plain bad luck knocked the plans back, and in the end, Rugby League did not get going in North America until the 1980s.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a great read. So unusual nowadays to find a story that hasn't already been told.
Whilst I was looking for something new to read I stumbled across the author discussing this book on Talk Sport. Having been a fan of the NFL and in particular the 49ers since the mid 80's then starting to follow NRL after attending a Brisbane Broncos game in 2012, it was as if this book was almost written for me.
It's really well researched via interviews and old press reports and tells a brilliant story of sporting adventure, which will probably never be matched again. Imagine taking a sporting team across the world to play a sport you had never even seen let alone played. In pre internet/Sky TV days there was no way the opposition could be researched or watched. These guys were going in blind against the Aussies and Kiwis - hardly Rugby League novices.
The book follows the All Stars tour through Australia and New Zealand then the follow up tour to France. There are reports on all the games and a stats table at the end of the book. It also details how the emergence of Rubgy League in the USA could have happned had it not been for all the bureacratic back and forth.
The worst thing about the book was the end!
You don't need to be a Rugby League or even sports fan to enjoy this book. It's one of adventure and escape which I'm glad I read. Also it's a bargain on the kindle!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the 1950's a group of Californian college footballers were assembled together by a guy with vision, cheek and an entrepreneurial spirit, flown to Australia, NZ and France and - despite no previous RL experience - competed valiantly against some of the best rugby league players and teams of the day. Now that is a remarkable story!

Despite being an avid reader of sports history/ biography and a big RL fan, this was certainly news to me when I heard the author being interviewed on the radio. The book really drew me in. We get to learn about the characters involved, the trials and tribulations of getting the trip together, their experiences, their gruelling schedule, the generally warm welcome they received (especially from the local ladies!), how they competed to a remarkably high standard and ultimately about the lasting frienships which were formed by such an incredible experience these young athletes enjoyed. What is clear is that this meagre squad were exceptional athletes and they loved the new code of football they had discovered - or rather, had thrust upon them. And what a near-miss in terms of how this could have led to RL being established as a serious sport in the US!

The story is fluid, fast moving, immediate, engaging and presented beautifully with photos and newspaper cuttings on every page. It's like discovering a magical, long-lost scrap book.

Respect to the players, respect to their hosts in the RL communities of the time and respect to the author for bringing the story to life!
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Format: Hardcover
A fantastic book. This will appeal to all sports fans and perhaps many who just see the sheer human interest element to this story. Who would have thought it possible a band of hastily assembled athletes, who didn't know each other let alone have any experience of playing Rugby League, could travel half way around the planet and perform so well in a sport which is possibly the most physically demanding and brutal on the planet. It really is the stuff of movie legend and why Hollywood hasn't picked this up by now is beyond me. It is impeccably researched and superbly written. I would recommend this for all rugby supporters, general sports fans and anyone who appreciates the age-old human values of aspiration and striving to overcome fantastic odds in order to achieve greatness. Did the American All Stars achieve greatness? Certainly the book the does, in my opinion. Read this book and decide for yourself if the actual team all those years achieved it. At long last, though, at the very least they're achieving the recognition that fate has cruelly airbrushed out of history. Good book and a great read indeed!
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