New Year's Day memories of Saints v Swinton

Billy Benyon
Billy Benyon
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Saints haven't crossed swords with Swinton for quite some years - but half a century ago it was a regular fixture in their calendar.

Turn back the clock to January 1 1968 and a short trip down the East Lancs Road was part of parcel of their festive programme in the 30-strong RL Championship competition.

The New Year's Day meeting in front of 6,150 fans at Station Road resulted in a 15-5 victory for St Helens who went on to finish the regular season in second spot behind Leeds - the latter going on to win the Championship play-off.

They never quite bridged the gap between themselves and the Loiners despite having a fearsome-looking squad at the time.

This included centre Billy Benyon, who in later years went on to coach his home-town club, record points scorer Kel Coslett, willow-the-wisp half back Tommy Bishop and legendary forwards such as Cliff Watson and John Mantle.

Others who faced the Lions on that New Year's day were Austin Rhodes, Frank Wilson, Frank Myler, Les Jones, Alan Whittle, John Warlow, Bill Sayer, Graham Rees, Cen Williams and Eric Chisnall.

During the same campaign, Saints, who were coached by Cliff Evans at the time, won the Lancashire Cup by beating Oldham 30-2 and the Lancshire League but lost 7-4 to Wigan in the BBC2 Floodit Trophy Final.