Remembering John Harrison's 'header' that created a St Helens try

There have been some oddball moments in Rugby League over the years but none more bizarre than a second half try by Saints in their home match against Sheffield Eagles in November 1990 which led to a call for a clarification of the laws of the sport.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:18 pm
John Harrison

Big John Harrison was at the centre of the furore as he headed the ball out of his hands close to the Sheffield line and in a flash team-mate George Mann pounced and touched down behind the posts.

The Eagles' players and fans of both clubs in the 6,115-strong Knowsley Road crowd were left scratching their heads because there was no rules to prevent teams heading the ball forwards at the time and Saints head coach, the late Mike McClennan, confirmed later that he and assistant Frankie Barrow had planned it before the game.

And incredibly prior to the move, the Saints' players had asked referee Gerry Kershaw if they were okay to attempt it, to which he replied: “Yes, no problem.”

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Following the match, which Saints won 34-17, the incident caused much controversy and heading the ball forward was subsequently outlawed a few days later.

Saints' line-up: Gary Connolly, Tea Ropati, Mark Bailey, Paul Loughlin, Les Quirk, Phil Veivers, Sean Devine, John Harrison, Paul Groves, Kevin Ward, Paul Forber, George Mann and Shane Cooper.

Subs: Paul Bishop and Paul Jones.

Tries for the home side came from Bailey (2), Cooper, Forber, Loughlin, and Mann with Loughlin also landing five goals.