Born 24th January 1935 in St. Helens, Lancashire, England Signed for
Wigan RLFC in 1955 for £150
It is with deep sadness that I learned of Eric's death on the 20th March 2008.
My sympathy goes out to his family and friends for their great loss.
I first met Eric in March, 2006 when he agreed to be interviewed for the National Archive and I remember a man who made a lasting impression on our team. From the outset he exuded the charisma and personal warmth that explained to us why he was so respected amongst his peers in the game. During filming he was a delight. He shared with us his insights into his beloved game and the characters within it with whom he had forged lifelong friendships.
We quickly came to understand why he was so respected by all who came into contact with him in whatever capacity. He was a people person who respected others and this explained in part why he was such a natural leader both on and off the field. His athletic ability and shrewd rugby brain combined with finely tuned leadership skills to make him one of the greatest players that our game has seen, and his record of achievements are a testimony to his qualities.
I can truly say that it was a privilege to know and work with Eric, and I am sure that this is a view that will resonate with everyone who were equally privileged to meet a truly great human being. His passing is a loss that will be felt by all members of his extended rugby league family.
Eric a St. Helen's lad, signed for Wigan after finishing his National Service in the Army. He quickly made the Wigan first team and played on the wing for the first season, he was then granted his wish to play centre and started the famous partnership with Bill Boston. This was one of the all time great Centre/Wing combinations both for the club and for Great Britain. Eric soon became the Wigan Captain and led them to 6 Wembley Cup Finals. In his Wigan career he scored 231 tries and 448 goals but he was renowned for his play making and leadership on the field of play.
He captained the 1960 Great Britain World Cup winning team and led them on the 1962 Ashes winning tour of Australia. This is regarded by many as the greatest ever touring side. In two tours of Australia in 1958 and 1962 he scored 51 tries, despite being a creative centre who's main aim was to make tries for his winger.
He is the only person to have Captained, Coached and been the Chairman of a Cup Winning side. In a 2 hour interview, Eric tells us about his early trial for his home town team St. Helens, then joining the Army on National Service. He tells how he set himself personal ambitions and whether he achieved them in his career, how quickly he made the Wigan first team and represented Lancashire, the successes and failures in his time as player and captain of Wigan.
He tells us what it was like to Captain some of the greatest ever Great Britain teams, about his time Coaching at Wigan, Leeds and St Helens and his time as Chairman and Board member of his home town club St. Helens.
A Clip from our interview with Eric
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