Arthur Gould - Rugby's First Superstar

    Delivery time:Out 12 October 2023
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‘We may never have seen him play but there is no doubt that those who did regarded Arthur Gould as one of the greatest sportsmen ever to wear the red shirt of Wales. His fame extended beyond the rugby field too and it is no exaggeration to describe him as the game’s first superstar. This book is a fitting tribute to Gould. Intelligent, lively and intriguing, it matches its subject in its verve. Prescott’s research is meticulous and he has done Gould and the histories of rugby and Wales itself proud.’
Prof Martin Johnes

‘In vividly chronicling the life of rugby’s first superstar, Gwyn Prescott has combined impeccable scholarship with an assured readability to produce a terrific book that enthrallingly evokes the world in which Welsh rugby union grew from infancy towards international importance and produced, in Arthur Gould’s Newport, its first great club.’
Huw Richards

‘The Gould family are delighted that the complete and definitive story of Arthur’s colourful life and illustrious rugby career has at last been written, and in such a brilliant manner by Gwyn Prescott.’
Gareth Harvey (Great-Great-Nephew of Arthur Gould)

Introduction: “Arthur Gould Stands Alone”
1. A Sequence of Chance Events
2. Bob Leads the Way
3. “Monk” Breaks Through
4. History at Crown Flatt
5. Back in the “War Paint”
6. “Newport’s Football King”
7. A Testimonial for a Football Prodigy
8. The Testimonial Comes Home
9. Extra Time
Appendix: Gould Brothers’ International Matches & Scoring Record

Arthur Gould is the definitive biography of the record-breaking Welsh international player who is widely acknowledged as the first superstar of  rugby. Such was his fame and renown, that upon his tragic, early death in 1919, aged just 54, Gould’s funeral in Newport was reported as the biggest Wales had ever seen.

Nicknamed ‘Monkey’ due to his childhood fondness for climbing trees, Gould played the majority of his club rugby for Newport RFC and won a then-record 27 Welsh caps; 25 of which were at centre (a record only bettered by Steve Fenwick in 1980); and captained his country 18 times (a record only beaten in 1994 by Ieuan Evans). A true sporting sensation, when he retired in 1899 Gould had played more first-class matches and scored more tries and drop goals than any other player.

Gould’s superstar status was illustrated late in his career when a testimonial appeal received widespread public support and resulted in the Scottish and Irish unions cancelling their fixtures with Wales in protest at the apparent breach of the game’s strict amateur ethos. The controversy deepened when the Welsh Football Union (now the WRU) stood firmly behind their iconic player and withdrew from the International Rugby Board. Fearing that lucrative fixtures with Welsh clubs might be lost and that Wales might join forces with the newly established Northern Union of professional rugby,  England’s Rugby Football  Union brokered a ‘one-off’ dispensation which enabled Gould to benefit from the testimonial while retaining his amateur status, and ensured that international fixtures were resumed.

Comprehensively researched and written by acclaimed rugby historian, Gwyn Prescott, with the full support and encouragement of the Gould family, Arthur Gould – Rugby’s First Superstar includes over 100 illustrations and will be   enjoyed by all who love rugby and treasure its sporting and cultural heritage.

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