Tributes pour in for amateur rugby legend

Eric Smith
Eric Smith

Tributes have been paid to a stalwart of amateur rugby league scene.

The dad-of-three’s love of the sport and determination to turn a band of friends into a top flight club led him to be named an Unsung Hero at the BBC North West Sports Award in 2005.

Tributes have poured in from across the rugby league community on social media.

A Saints spokesman said: “Everyone at St Helens sends their thoughts and sympathies to the family and friends of Eric Smith who sadly passed away at the weekend.

“Eric was the figurehead of Haydock Warriors - being its chairman and founder - and a real driving force in community rugby league in St Helens.

“So much so he won a special award for Services to Community Rugby League in St Helens and Merseyside in last year’s Community awards.

“He also was named Unsung Sports Hero at the BBC North West Sports Awards in 2005.

“He backed the Saints 100 per cent - even though he was a Wigan fan - and he was a great advert for the rugby league community in St Helens.

“Despite battling illness, he remained a true warrior until the end and will be sadly missed by us all.”

Eric started playing rugby age four when he was growing up in Hindley and would regularly go to watch Wigan at Central Park with his dad Tommy Smith.

Haydock ARLFC ‏tweeted on Friday: “Today our club lost its founder and rock of the club. RIP Eric our club will never be the same again. #LEGEND.”

Mark Abbott wrote: “Few people will have such a positive affect on so many in their lifetime. The world is now a smaller place without him.”

Danny Owens ‏added: “He was a top bloke always had time for everyone will be missed by everyone.”

Stephen Jones wrote: “‏RIP to a proper chap who did so much for is club, I so much respect this man.”

Andrew Baileym wrote: “An absolutely outstanding bloke. Amateur rugby to the core. Thoughts with all Eric’s family and friends.”