Talking Sport: Legends from across the generations

Tom Van Vollenhoven
Tom Van Vollenhoven

FORMER Saints’ players spanning several generations lined-up to form a guard of honour as club legend Tom van Vollenhoven headed for the centre spot to officially start the first Super League match at Langtree Park on Friday night.

It was a moving and tear-jerking moment, and also a reminder of the glorious years in the club’s history.

Lining up were: Alex Murphy, Frankie Barrow, Alan Bishop, Peter Harvey, Terry Loughlin, Brian McGinn, Glynn Moses, Bob Prosser, Keith Northey, Austin Rhodes, Billy Sheffield, Wilf and Charlie Smith, Abe Terry, Bill Benyon, Kel Coslett, Eric and Dave Chisnall, Denis Colbon, Peter Glynn, Alan Gwilliam, Jeff Heaton, Ray Howard, Ken Kelly, John Mantle, Geoff Pimblett, Eric Prescott, Harry Pinner, Chris Arkwright, Bernard Dwyer, Neil Holding, Barrie Ledger, Dennis Litherland, Paul Loughlin, Keiron Pickavance Chris Joynt, Keiron Cunningham, Mike Bennett, Alan Hunte, Paul Sculthorpe, Anthony Stewart, Sean Long, and Steve Prescott.

Seeing so many well-known faces – and being old enough to recall some of their exploits – it set me thinking about what kind of team I could select from those on parade.

It took a great deal of head scratching to find my best 17, but I got there.

Now I am asking readers to do the same and submit the names to me via e-mail on john.yates43@googlemail.com or on a postcard to Saints’ Greats Competition, St Helens Reporter, Bank House, Claughton Street, St Helens, WA10 IRL.

The person I consider to have selected the strongest-looking line-up will receive a copy of Paul Loughlin’s recent autobiography entitled From Grass to Glass – A Rugby League Journey.

Entrants can also include Voll himself in their team and another ex-Knowsley Road star Phil Veivers, who was at Langtree Park in his capacity as head coach of Salford.

All entries must be submitted no later than Saturday, February 25.

STILL reflecting on Friday’s official opening of Langtree Park, wasn’t it great to see the clock turned back to the days when brass band music was part and parcel of every sporting occasion?

Saints produced a master stroke when they decided to bring a little bit of oomph to the proceedings with The Band of the King’s Division.

No doubt the younger fans would have preferred scantily dressed girl singers blasting out hits of the week, but I think that would have been out of place when nostalgia played a major part in the proceedings.

THE Original Saints Supporters’ Club hold their annual general meeting at the Black Bull Hotel, Knowsley Road, on Wednesday, March 7 (7.30pm).

Members will be able to renew subscriptions on the night, while fans wanting to join their ranks for the first time will be made more than welcome.

The supporters’ club is also running a coach to the Super League clash at Hull KR on Sunday. The fare is £13 for members and £14 for non-members.

Potential travellers are asked to ring any official to confirm what time the bus will be leaving the Black Bull.