Fans plan lasting tribute to Leigh legend Woods

Leigh legend John Woods

Leigh legend John Woods

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PLANS to give a Leigh rugby league legend a permanent tribute at the club’s stadium have been unveiled.

A group of fans have launched an ambitious bid to have a stadium of stand off John Woods, Leigh’s all-time record points scorer, erected on the plaza at the Leigh Sports Village (LSV).

The campaigners need to raise £30,000 for the 10ft bronze sculpture and hope to unveil it next year when Woods, who scored 2,492 points in a glittering 16-year career which included two spells at Leigh, turns 60.

The statue is the brainchild of Jason Donohue, the chair of the Leigh Centurions Players’ Association and a former team-mate of Woods, who hopes the idea of a permanent statue to the born-and-bred Leyther will prove extremely popular in the town.

Jason, 43, said: “The statue was just an idea I had, and who else could it be but the best player to play for Leigh in John?

“He’s a modest man and a gentleman but if you go back into the club’s history that’s what people talk about, they will mention him playing in Leigh’s best team.

“I had the pleasure of playing alongside him during his second spell at the club when I played scrum half and he was stand off.

“I remember one Saturday morning training session and I was passing in front of him, behind him, over his head and round his ankles. Eventually someone said to me my passing was awful and my response was: ‘It’s John Woods’.

“I was passing to my hero and I know John is a hero to many people in the town.”

Woods signed for Leigh in 1976 and stayed at Hilton Park until 1985, his time there being best remembered for his role in Leigh’s 1981-82 season when they won the Lancashire Cup and the league championship.

He returned to Leigh for two years at the end of his career between 1990 and ‘92 and also played for Bradford Northern, Warrington and Rochdale Hornets.

A community committee has been set up to make the statue a reality, with the site likely to be just outside the LSV, and Jason hopes the fund-raising will be a grass-roots effort among Leythers who watched Woods from the terraces during his career.

He said: “We’ve got a couple of sites in mind. We were thinking of putting it on the roundabout but we’ve decided against that because people will want photographs with it and having them walking across a busy road isn’t a good idea.

“We’re now looking to site it on the plaza but we’ve got to finalise it. We’re not really looking at businesses for the fund-raising, it’s being driven by a group of fans because John is a hero to them.”

The campaign has the full backing of Wigan Council, with Leigh Centurions fan and council leader Lord Smith giving his support.

Lord Smith said: “John Woods was a brilliant rugby player and a genuine Leyther. The council is very happy to support Jason Donohue and his committee in their endeavours to get a statute to celebrate John’s career and his contribution to the town.”

To find or more or donate, search for the John Woods Statue page on Facebook, follow the campaign on Twitter @WoodysStatue or visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/JOHN-WOODS-STATUE