Retired businessman Tom Little might have played rugby union but it is rugby league that has inspired the first of two books.

His first, lanched today, tellos the remarkable story about how a small town and its surrounding villages played such a huge part in the development of the sport which was born out of the classsystem.

At a time when rugby union was the perogative of the university and professional classes, it was the working classes - the miners, the farm labourers, the steel workers and so on who threw themselves into rugby league.

Tom would argue that nowhere was this demonstrated more than in Maryport.

Just snipets from his book will reveal that only six players in the history of the game have scored300 goals and made300 tries in their rugby careers. Two of those, Jimmy Lomas and Ike Southward, werefrom Maryport.

Tjhose same two players broke transfer records- Lomasafter World War I and Southward after World War II.

Lomas also captained the firstEnglish teamto tour Australia and NewZealand in 1910.

Tom Little was a well-known men's clothing shopownerboth in Maryport and Cpckermouth.

His father opoened his gentlemen's outfittersin Maryport in 1967 and Tomtookit over.He opoened a second business in Cockermouth.

He attended Workington Grammar School where he played cricket and rugby union.

"I always played union but I njoyed league and Maryport's contribution tot he sport was considerable."

He had intended to publish just one volume looking at rugby league in Maryportfrompre World WarI until 1945.

"The publishers, Bookcase, said that was too long so I have written two volumes. The seond will be out shortly."

Tomn's first book was ;launched in Maryport on Wednesday and will be sold at Cueto'snewsagents on Wood Street, at Bookeds in Keswick and is available from