Rugby club celebrates 50th anniversary

Past and present players from Leigh Miners Rangers mark the milestone
Past and present players from Leigh Miners Rangers mark the milestone

It was a day of celebrations on and off the pitch as Leigh Miners Rangers reached its 50th anniversary.

Former players, coaches and supporters from across the decades returned to the Twist Lane amateur rugby league club on Saturday to mark the milestone.

The festivities started with a pre-match question-and-answer session with past players Tony Cottrell, Paul Dowling and John Webster, along with Lock Lane’s Dave Edginton.

They shared their memories of the 1983 National Cup final between the two clubs, which was won by Leigh, and their thoughts on the game to be played on Saturday.

Mr Dowling also reminisced about his international tours to France with the Leigh town team and to Papua New Guinea in 1978.

Mr Cottrell talked about his return to the game at the age of 28, 10 years after retiring with a broken leg, and within two years becoming an amateur international, National Cup and North West Counties winner and signing for nearly a decade’s service at Leigh.

The current players then headed to the pitch for a match against their 1983 opponents Lock Lane, who were fresh from a win over league leaders Siddal. Leigh Miners had a strong second half and triumphed 48-14.

The celebrations continued into the evening with a dinner party, including a panel made up of Tommy Goulden, Martyn Ridyard, Tommy Martyn junior and Wigan and Penrith great Bill Ashurst.

Mr Ridyard spoke about his time as a youngster coming through the club and the team spirit among Leigh born and bred Centurions players.

Mr Martyn highlighted the importance of community rugby clubs and his memories of being in the youth team under the tutelage of Billy Wilkinson.

The evening concluded with founder members Rod Raines, Eric Ratcliffe and John Norris receiving a special presentation, while the latter two joined Mr Raines and Harry Westhead as they were inducted into the hall of fame.

Other stars who attended on the day included Charlie Warburton, Mike Smith, Ray ‘Chalky’ Evans, John Cooke, Ian Taylor, Warren Ayres, Alan Reddecliff, Danny Flannery, Tony Dowling, John Simpkin, Mark Wood, Paul Gittins, Mick Cassidy and Shaun Dowie.

A book about the history of the club has been produced by public relations officer Jeff Gorse and is now available to buy. He can be contacted on 07845 190936 or jeffgorse@yahoo.com.