I HAVE been privileged and lucky enough to follow the career of one-club man Paul Wellens from the moment he made his senior debut against Halifax Blue Sox at Knowsley Road on August 30, 1998.
Now, almost 13 years later, the Saints’ full back is set to make his 400th apearance for his home town club against Huddersfield Giants at the Stobart Stadium on Friday night and without question the fans will give him the kind of reception he deserves after such loyal service.
He told me the other week when we were discussing his time at Knowsley Road that he never once had the urge to leave and thankfully the club never wanted him to go.
That is hardly surprising if you trawl through his career statistics which include honours in the World Club Challenge, Challenge Cup, and Super
League, as well as the supreme individual accolade of all – Man of Steel.
It’s a record of which both he and his family can be proud and when he hangs up his boots in the not too distant future he will be able to sit down in the comfort of his armchair and reflect on a job well done.
I have been seated in the press box for at least 90 per cent of his games and hand-on-heart cannot ever recall him having a ‘stinker.’
He might disagree but over the years few team-mates have matched his level of consistency week-in and week-out, apart from possibly Keiron Cunningham.
Never the speediest full back in the sport, Wello has made up for it by his astute reading of a game and there have been countless times when I have seen him come to Saints’ rescue with a timely tackle, or intervention.
He also has an eye for a try and his current tally of 185 isn’t bad for a full back.
When the curtain comes down on his illustrious career his boots will be difficult to fill.
HAD to feel a little sorry for Castleford Tigers after the cruel manner they were ousted from the Carnegie Challenge Cup by Leeds Rhinos under the golden point rule on Sunday.
It’s just a shame stand-off Rangi Chase missed a far from difficult drop goal in the dying seconds of normal time because it would have been great to see one of the so-called lesser lights grace Wembley and bring back much needed romance to the Challenge Cup.
Most of the finals since the turn of the Millennium have featured the ‘big guns’ of the sport and like the Premiership in soccer there is a growing dangerous of the elite gobbling up all the trophies year-in and year-out.
More’s the pity.
IF you want an enjoyable and relaxing sporting afternoon and the chance to rub shoulders with some former Rugby League greats, then pop down to the Greenall’s Club in Alder Hey Road on Saturday, August 20, from 1pm.
It will be the venue for the Saints Past Players’ Association annual crown green bowling competition when they take on rivals from Warrington, Widnes and Liverpool City.
A buffet will be served at 4.30pm and any one wanting further details is asked the contact association secretary Geoff Pimblett, telephone 01704 24611.