Written by Stuart McLennan
Photo by John Bonanno
When Terry Liberopoulos published the first edition of Rugby League Review back in 2002, combining his passion for the game with his love of magazines, he had no inkling he would eventually see off established competitors Rugby League Week and Big League.
Ironically it was the now defunct publications that provided the inspiration for Liberopoulos to branch out on his own.
“I was always fascinated with magazines. I would buy Big League and Rugby League Week regularly and always wanted to be a journalist,” Liberopoulos told Everything Rugby League.
“I would do my own mock-up magazines in primary school and the kids would actually borrow it to read it. I did work experience at Rugby League Week and tried to get a job there but lack of experience didn’t help me. So I started my own magazine called ‘Rugby League Gazette’ in 1992 that ran for nine issues. Financially that was a struggle but it opened plenty of doors for me.
“Even after working with Fox Sports and the NRL, I always wanted to go back and do another magazine.
“I have always been fascinated with rugby league since watching Greg Pierce play for the Cronulla club way back in the 1970s. I lived in Marrickville and only a few minutes walk from Henson Park, home ground of the Newtown Jets.
“Up until 1983, the Jets played in the first grade competition. I liked the way Pierce played and when I found out he was a Marrickville boy, the Sharks were my team. I was allowed back then to go to Henson Park as we lived nearby and my world revolved watching games there. I would get to the ground at 11.45am and wait for the Under 23s to start at 11.50am.”
While Rugby League Review contains plenty of NRL news, it’s the additional content that keeps loyal subscribers coming back for more. Published every two months, you can catch up on everything from grassroots to international development. The current issue has the latest Sydney Shield, country and Lithuanian rugby league news amongst other things.
“When I started, I wanted to be like ‘Rugby League Week’ was back in the 1970s and 1980s. They moved to focusing mainly on the NRL and I wanted to cover everything else.
“There is more to rugby league than just the NRL. International rugby league has been a great passion for me. I remember buying a copy of Malcolm Andrews’ book ‘Encyclopaedia of Rugby League’ in 1980. I remember I started from A and it talked about the American All Stars. I couldn’t believe they played. Then I read about Italy and Yugoslavia having played the game. I was hooked.”
When pressed on his favourite story for Rugby League Review, Liberopoulos points to a yarn that was reignited on the other side of the world but had its roots at his beloved Henson Park.
“The first issue had a story on Manfred Moore, the former NFL player that played for Newtown in 1977. I wanted to interview him but tracking him down was a massive task. I did locate a Manfred Moore in the USA but the lady that answered the phone said it was the wrong Manfred and she had been getting these enquiries for 20 years. I was so determined to get him that I hired a private investigator and they were able to track him down. When I spoke to him, he had no idea that anyone remembered him.
“I kept in touch with him, sending him rugby league stuff. Newtown asked me for his information so they could contact him. They brought him over to Australia as a special guest and I was able to catch up with him.”
Liberopoulos acknowledges that times have changed and the days of rushing into your local newsagent and grabbing a fresh copy of a rugby league ‘bible’ is a fading memory. However his customer base has grown following the demise of RLW and Big League.
“Newsagents are slowly closing or downsizing but I hope there is enough around for years to come. The post will always be there so we are encouraging more of our readers to go down that path. It is cheaper to subscribe and postage is free within Australia .
“If you told me in 2002 when I started Rugby League Review that I would outlast both RLW and Big League, I would have told you that you were crazy. But with many things going online, you need to sell many copies just to survive. Rugby League Review is still here because we aren’t weekly and we have less expenses and most importantly, we have some loyal readers that still want a magazine.”
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