League’s Decline: Making Great Britain Great Again

On the morning of Saturday, October 24th1992, readers of the Daily Mirror turned to the sports pages to find an unusual lead story. Instead of a Football scandal or Cricketing collapse, readers were confronted with a striking publicity shot of Martin Offiah scorching past a hapless Australian defender with a blaze of fire trailing in his wake.

Under the headline ‘Wembley here we come: London’s Burning – Chariots on Fire’, the paper informed readers that the World Cup Final had arrived.

Offiah would ‘provide fireworks’ to audiences across the globe in ‘Australia, South Africa, Singapore and Europe’. Rugby League finally occupied the centre stage on the British sporting calendar.

Such headlines did not materialise out of thin air. League’s trajectory from the wilderness to the back pages was ten years in the making.

It was the end product of a series of bold decisions, the challenging of stereotypes, the manufacturing of narratives and, above all, a ruthless ambition by administrators to take the sport to new and bigger audiences.


To continue reading this piece, pick up the December edition of Forty20



Published on the Friday closest to the 13th day of the month – Forty20 magazine is the alternative voice of rugby league. Intelligent, thought-provoking, informative and fun, we cover rugby league at every level.

Forty20  features thought-provoking articles by the game’s most respected writers and best-known personalities – including expert Brian Noble, Stevie Ward and Mantality, Saint Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and women’s international Danika Priim.

It contains face-to-face interviews with rugby league’s most engaging characters, be they in the European Super League, Australasian NRL or anywhere else in the world.

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