The Glory and the Dream by Roy Chester tells the story of a young boy’s rite of passage. It is full of rich characters, and is played out against a backdrop of social upheaval in the austere post-war years of rationing and shortages. But it was a time when communities pulled together. Walking days, royal visits, Sunday School outings to the seaside and communal bonfire nights were annual highlights. It was a time when youngsters had to make their own entertainment, including playing rugby league.
It is a novel about Johnny Gregson, the young star of the Garton rugby league team, whose dream is to follow his dad’s success in the sport.
Johnny lives with his mother in Four Locks, a poor working class area in a grimy northern town. His father died in the Second World War. The story starts in 1945, when he is aged 10. It follows his rise from junior rugby league through playing rugby union as a schoolboy to turning professional with Garton.
However, there is much more to Johnny than rugby league. He faces challenges at every turn, including when he wins a scholarship to a local public school and is labelled as a ‘slum kid;’ by the class bully. His prowess at rugby helps him deal with this boy. Also, at the tender age of 16, he meets a young woman who becomes very important to him.
This is a story about sport, romance and working class life. It includes many humorous incidents, insights and even tragedy in a young man’s development.