Steve Mascord – born Andrew John Langley – was obsessed with rugby league and rock’n’roll. Long after almost everyone he knew, he clung to these things like twin teddybears, turning at least one of them into a career and making a bit of money out of the other.

But he spent all this money on …. rugby league and rock’n’roll. At the age of 47 he owned precisely nothing aside from hundreds of records and CDs and almost every edition of Rugby League Week ever printed. He was unmarried, had no car or property and was the proud owner of $50,000 of credit card debt.

Touchstones coverThen one day he discovered the truth about himself.

He always knew he was adopted but it turned out he was part of a bohemian family, his mother forced to give him up after suffering a mental breakdown. She searched for him until her dying day. Steve met uncles and cousins and aunties he never knew existed and for the first time in his life he felt whole. And he looked around that storage room full of CDs and football magazines and felt sad; a sense of loss.

He appeared in newspapers and on radio and television and people thought he was successful but had he really created a life for himself? Or was he living in a childhood fantasy, compensating for what had been missing, ready to fall down on top of him as traditional media imploded?

Steve thought ‘enough of being Steve Mascord, who is not a real person. Time to finally be Andrew John Langley’.

Having figuratively thrown all his toys out of the cot, he decided to conduct an audit. Which ones to pick up off the floor and keep in his new life, and which to leave laying there forever.

Click on one of the links below to order Touchstones. More to come!

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FAR & WIDE: #3 2017


THE kerfuffle caused by colleague Robert Burgin’s RLW piece a couple of weeks ago is still rumbling on.

So far, the mooted rebellion of a dozen countries from the RLIF’s rule is still very much underground. There is still at least some possibility many countries will accept the offer of a fully funded tournament next year.

The way Far & Wide sees it, there is a very important line to be drawn.

I openly opposed, for instance, Penrith and Brisbane playing a game in Hawaii two years ago. My reasons were this: NRL players had demanded that spring off and Great Britain had therefore been told to stay home. Also, to be honest I was not sure NRL players on an end-of-season trip could be trusted to do more good than harm in a new territory.

But the main concern was this: expansion is too important to be done on an ad-hoc basis. It’s OK for soccer clubs to organise their pre-season and end-of-season games because soccer is widely played internationally.

Rugby league still is not.

International expansion should be part of an over-all strategy, not done in a piecemeal fashion by the competing teams – and in that respect alone I have sympathy for the RLIF in the decision not to allow Emerging Nations games to go ahead.

The games were initially intended to be curtain-raisers but would the teams involved have actually have fielded true national sides? I doubt every player would have satisfied the grandparent rule and I doubt the best players would have been available. And it was not the best countries; some of them do not have the required domestic activity to be in the World Cup qualifiers and others do.

But the RLIF did not block the tournament because of these concerns. The countries weren’t asked to stop calling the matches a “championship”. It was blocked because the World Cup asked for it to be blocked, citing exclusivity clauses.

The countries involved were allowed to continue planning for several months only to have those plans blocked. That’s why they’re angry. And they are justified in that.

Far & Wide would like to see any replacement tournament next year built into a proper structure. Perhaps a country without the proper bonafides could win a wildcard into the next World Cup qualification (although once there they would have to meet all requirements regarding the team they field).

I know that’s what the RLIF want. Let’s try to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.
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FAR & WIDE: #2 2017


FAR & WIDE’s favourite club, the Toronto Wolfpack, will make their full competitive debut this weekend in the Challenge Cup.
We thought we’d be waiting until March 4 when they take their National League One bow against London Skolars at New River Stadium but now we don’t have to wait that long.
The BBC will live stream the Challenge Cup third round tie against Halifax amateur side Siddal.
Siddal is only about six kilometres from the Wolfpack’s UK base at Brighouse. The match will be shown on the BBC website at 1pm UK time on Saturday.
The Challenge Cup is, of course, rugby league’s most famous knock-out competition and a good Cup run could see the ‘pack take on Super League opposition in later rounds.

IT’S a week now since colleague Robert Burgin brought you the shattering news in these pages that the planned Emerging Nations tournament to be run in conjunction with the World Cup had been blocked.
The most worrying aspect of his commendable double-paged feature from the point of view of Far & Wide is that a number of un-named countries are considering breaking away from the RLIF.
On one hand, I can feel their anger and frustration. But on the other, with rugby league so close to getting recognition from Sport Accord and the IOC, any splintering could be disastrous.
Interestingly, next year is a “rest” springtime for the NRL’s Australian players, which means the international calendar will be relatively sparse. A properly-funded Emerging Nations tournament in Australia (the RLIF have promised some money as compensation for the disaster this year) could be successful, particularly if the RLWC is a hit.
You could even make some of these games worth something – perhaps offer a wildcard entry into the qualifying series for the 2021 tournament.
Hopefully, sanity will prevail but if I had wasted all that time planning something, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and been humiliated in front of sponsors and government officials, I’d be threatening rebellion too.
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