Rugby legend’s statue is ready

John Woods with the statue of him which will go outside Leigh Sports Village
John Woods with the statue of him which will go outside Leigh Sports Village

The official unveiling of the new statue of Leigh rugby league legend John Woods will take place next month.

The bronze likeness of the club’s all-time leading points scorer will be revealed at the Leigh Sports Village (LSV) stadium on September 17.

“People just have so much respect for John and everything he has done for Leigh rugby.”

Jason Donohue

The statue has been created following a successful campaign to raise £30,000, with Centurions fans, businesses and councillors all chipping in and the campaign being backed by Wigan Council.

John and his family will be on hand to see the statue unveiled, with a host of important guests expected to attend the ceremony before Leigh Centurions play Batley Bulldogs in the Middle 8s.

The unveiling date means the team behind the statue have also achieved their ambition of completing it before John’s 60th birthday.

Jason Donohue, who came up with the idea and led the statue committee, said: “The unveiling should be a great event. This is for the people of Leigh and it’s all come about because of one person.

“People just have so much respect for John and everything he has done for Leigh rugby. He’s a bit overwhelmed because he’s a very modest man but he’s happy for the statue to be there and it will be a very proud moment for him and his family as well as a lasting legacy.

“The statue is an action shot of John and they’ve really gone to town on the plinth. It will look fantastic and be a real focal point as people drive onto the LSV site off the bypass.”

The statue will be outside the main reception at the front of the LSV. The bronze, which is a quarter bigger than life size, will sit on a plinth containing marble shipped over from Italy and stone.

To make the project a reality Jason and the committee organised a year of fund-raising events, including a bike ride visiting every club John played for during his career and a sportsman’s dinner for the successful 1982 Leigh side in which he was a key member.

John’s former team-mate Garry Schofield and opponent Brett Kenny also held a question-and-answer night.

Artist Gill Hamilton, from Glazebury, produced a painting of John which was auctioned off for £1,500 and Maxilead Metals donated all the bronze.

Creating the piece has also been a local effort, with Leigh firm PAB Chartered Architects drawing the plans and Mawdesley sculptor Stephen Charnock carrying out the vital task of casting the bronze.

Jason said: “It’s the enthusiasm of the people of Leigh and the way they’ve bought into the committee’s idea that has made this happen.

“It has been hard work and there have been a lot of ups and downs but the support from everyone has made it easier. We never thought we would get it done so quickly.”

Wigan Council l leader Lord Peter Smith said: “The campaign has done a brilliant job in raising the money for the John Woods statue in such a short perio d of time and for such a great cause. In my view Woods is the club’s greatest-ever player. I’m sure many fans will want to be there when the statue is revealed.”

The John Woods statue outside the LSV will be unveiled on Saturday September 17 at 12.30pm.