Tributes to Saints legend Tom van Vollenhoven

St Helens
St Helens

Saints legend Tom van Vollenhoven has died.

The town’s most famous adopted son was regarded by many as the club’s greatest player - and tales of the South African’s exploits are still told on the terraces decades after his time on the field thanks to his 392 tries from 409 appearances.

The legend joined Saints in 1957 after reportedly beating rivals Wigan for his services, and the attentions of the South African RFU,

He passed away on Saturday at the age of 82.

St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus said: “Everyone at the club and in the town of St Helens would like to express our sincere condolences to Tom’s wife Leone and to his family.

“Tom was one of St Helens’ and rugby league’s greatest ever players: a true great amongst greats. He lit up the game during its great era in the 1950s and 60s. There may be possible debate over who was St Helens’ best ever player but there is no doubt over who is our most loved and revered player: it is Tom van Vollenhoven.

“His passing is of great sadness but his life and his rugby career is one only of inspiration and of heart-warming memories. The name of St Helens will always be much the richer because of the decade during which Tom Van Vollenhoven wore our shirt with unparalleled success, pride and distinction.”

Born in Orange Free State, South Africa April 29 1935, he died in Selcourt, Springs, South Africa.

Van Vollenhoven scored a record 62 in the 1958–59 Northern Rugby Football League season and in 2000, he was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame.

He lifted the Challenge Cup, league championship and Lancashire cup in his time with the club, and scored a memorable length-of-the-field try in the 1961 Cup final win over Wigan.

Former teammate and Club Life President Kel Coslett Said: “I was privileged to have played with such a truly wonderful player as Tom van Vollenhoven. But I will remember him in equal measure as a true gentleman and as a good friend. St Helens took Tom to its heart and Tom took St Helens to his. A real all-time great.”