Talking Sport: History repeating

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Local rugby league historian Alex Service has been in touch telling me about the 75th anniversary of the last professional match at City Road on April 22, 1939.

Significantly, it co-incides with the the current re-development of City Road into a housing estate.

Although the team was struggling for this particular match (no hookers were fit and they lost the scrums hands-down!) their sheer determination enabled them to come away with a 17-10 win against visitors York, despite the loss of star winger Ernie Large early on, together with other casualties along the way.

“It was a display of what Recs have always been noted and respected for, tenacity and determination to fight hard no matter what the odds.” wrote Cityman in the St. Helens Newspaper.

Bob Grundy scored the final try, following excellent inter-passing with his captain, Albert Bailey. The players knew it was the last home match and there were just two more games before they all went their separate ways.

The crowd of just 1,300 was symptomatic of the decline of the club in less than a decade.

For the record, the Recs’ team against York was as follows: Peter Lythgoe [1G]; Albert Pimblett, Albert Bailey [Capt], Jack Atherton, Ernie Large; Eli Dixon, Ronnie Prescott; Bill Parr [1T], Fred Rowson, Bill Rankin [2T], Bill Grundy [2T], Horace Randolph, Jack Howard.

A current member of the Pilkington Recs team, winger Will Abbott had a great-grandfather, Walter, a centre, who played for the Recs between the wars and was later transferred to Broughton Rangers.

g If you haven’t already bought Stan Wall’s autobiography, then I suggest you pop along to Langtree Park where it is on sale and snap up a copy.

‘Stan the Man’ is the life story of a former miner who also became a top RL referee and the most famous kitman in the 13-a-side code and is written in conjunction with life-long Saints’ fan Andrew Quirke.

The dangers and harrowing experiences he faced underground, the serious and often funny moment he endured as one of the men-in-the-middle and during two decades as a member of Saints’ backroom team are encapsulated in the 191-page paperback which is a must read for any Rugy League fan.

Stan, among other things, takes you inside the home dressingroom at Knowsley Road and relives the peculiarity of some of Rugby League’s top stars.

No one comes under more scrutiny than world class centre Paul Newlove, who joined Saints at the birth of Super League from Bradford for a then record fee.

According to Stan, Saints’ coach at the time, Ian Millward, ordered his players to attend an evening training session shortly after their arrival in London to play the Broncos.

“We can’t train tonight,” insisted Newy who, when asked why, replied: “Jack Sugden is in court and could lose his farm. It’s Emmerdale tonight.”

And the following morning he came down fo breakfast beaming, declaring: “It’s all right, he got off.”

There are many more hilarious extracts in the book, which retails at £11.99, and also a tad of criticism from the way Saints were run in the pre-Super League.

era from former chief executive David Howes.

To read more buy your copy now to avoid disappointment.