Christmas book reviews: Prescott memoir is a must not just for fans

LEGEND: Steve Prescott.
LEGEND: Steve Prescott.
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The traditional tale of a rugby player’s career yet, at the same time, almost a survival guide for anyone faced by great adversity.

Steve Prescott’s One In A Million is certainly not your average autobiography.

Entitled so due to the fact that was the chance of ever developing the rare form of stomach cancer that left this remarkable man battling for his life, it also mirrors what most people thought of him, too.

The former Hull FC, St Helens and England full-back, who was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei in September 2006 and given only months to live, sadly died last year at the age of 39.

The cancer, as he always insisted, never did beat him though.

Instead it was following a ground-breaking organ transplant – detailed here for the first time in the emotive final chapters – that rid him of the cancer, but then led to him suffering further complications.

It is left to his wife Linzi to complete the tale but what shines through in this book is the sheer courage, spirit and dedication of a man who simply never knew how to give in – whether off the pitch or on it.

At times amusing, hilarious and colourful, while of course tinged with sadness as Prescott tells of his battle to survive to see his two sons grow up, it is a must for all rugby league fans but reaches far beyond that too.

Reading just exactly what Prescott had to go through to complete the numerous and phenomenal physical challenges he undertook in the name of charity while battling the disease is awe-inspiring.

After establishing the Steve Prescott Foundation, he helped raise half a million pounds whether running marathons, cycling from Perpignan to Wembley or rowing across the English Channel.

He proved an inspiration to thousands of people yet remained deeply humble throughout.

Some of the anecdotes about life with his mates, such as rugby league stars like Paul Sculthorpe, Chris Joynt and co, are truly memorable and Prescott gives a real flavour of what it was like to be a professional player, bringing in stories about plenty of the sport’s characters.

He wasn’t able to write the final chapters himself but his wife does a splendid job summing up the man and explaining what happened in the those last few months during the pioneering treatment.

The Man of Steel award is now named after Prescott but that does not tell half the story.

One in A Million (Vertical Editions, £17.99).