A RETIRED art teacher has created a stunning tribute to Saints’ greatest ever players to mark the club’s move to Langtree Park.
Although he now lives in Wigan, lifelong Saints fan John Meadows revealed his true colours by painstakingly painting a tribute to the elite “dream team” voted the greatest of the club’s Knowsley Road era.
Among the names featured on the poster are Paul Wellens, Keiron Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe - as well as stars of years gone by such as Duggie Greenall, Tom Van Vollenhoven and John’s personal favourite, Alex Murphy.
John, 62, the former head of art at Deanery High School in Wigan, said: “I created a limited edition painting last year to commemorate the closure of Knowsley Road and everyone was asking me what I was going to do next.
“So I decided to paint a poster of all the players who had been voted by a panel of experts as Saints’ greatest ever. It took me 170 hours to paint - about 10 hours per player - but involved quite a lot of research too.
“I didn’t know too much about the likes of Leslie Fairclough, for example, and used old programmes and newspaper excerpts to add little biographies of each player on a collage around the border.
“What I didn’t want to do was just create a team portrait - so I tried to search for photos of each player in typical poses. For me, the likes of Tom Van Vollenhoven and Alex Murphy had to be painted in action poses.”
John made his first visit to Knowsley Road with his dad when he was just six-years-old, an experience which inspired him to take up rugby league as a teenager.
He then went on to play for England Universities in the first ever University International against France in 1973 while studying in Leeds.
John, who moved from his native St Helens to Wigan in 1988, added: “Last year’s Knowsley Road painting was a limited edition but this one is on general sale. People will be able to get A2 or A3 size prints, or an A2 print on stretched canvas from the Saints shop.
“The interest I received last year was amazing. I even received an order from a Saints fan working on the oil rigs in Saudi Arabia!”
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