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‘Giant of rugby league journalism’ dies aged 70

A former regional press journalist who went on to cover rugby league for a national newspaper has died aged 70 after a long illness.

Dave Hadfield, left, worked for the Bolton News along with titles in Blackpool and Oswestry before becoming a sports writer for the Independent and a prolific author.

Dave died peacefully on Tuesday morning having fought a long battle with Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years.

His career also included stints on papers on Hong Kong and Australia before he joined the Independent in 1990.

Former Independent colleague Ally McKay described Dave as “someone for whom rugby league was everything, and he loved communicating that with readers.”

“The tributes from those within the sport as well as colleagues and readers are testament to what a giant he was in rugby league circles,” he said.

His successor at the i, John Davidson said: “Dave was a fantastic writer and didn’t pull any punches. They don’t make RL journos like him any more.”

And Fellow rugby league writer Ross Heppenstall said: “Dave could paint pictures with words. Respected and loved throughout the game.”

Former Independent sports editor Paul Newman recalled: “I never appreciated what a titan Dave was in rugby league until I went up to Hull for the climax of the Student Rugby League World Cup.

“The Indy sponsored it and I had to present the trophies. I went with Dave to the official dinner in the evening and it was as if I was walking in the room with David Beckham. It seemed like everyone wanted to say hello and shake his hand.”

As well as writing numerous books about rugby league, he also wrote All the Wrong Notes, a personal take on the music scene over the past 50 years, and Lost in Spain, which traced the footsteps of the poet Laurie Lee when he walked from Gloucestershire to the Mediterranean in the 1930s.