Tash Tales with Alf Ridyard

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In previous pieces we have unearthed some star sportsmen from this area on the Leigh borders with Lowton and Abram.

Plank Lane is noted for its tough miners and was a close knit community. Today we have someone from an iconic little street, not known to many from outside the area,.

Cunliffe Court a tiny little cluster of six terraced cottages literally under the shadow of the Plank Lane pit head gear, affectionately better known as the “crack” because of its narrow entrance between the Grey Horse Inn and Stouts grocery shop now all sadly gone.

Today’s celebrity is a rugby league player from the 1920s. Bert Webster played 129 games for the team on the dark side of the borough, Wigan!

Leigh fans in the area must have been fed up of Bert as over the years he saved his best games for Leigh.

Bert signed for Wigan in 1918 after the cessation of hostilities and played as prop or second row until retirement in 1924.

His first thorn in Leigh’s side was in the 1922/23 Lancashire Cup Final at the Willows, Salford, when he scored two tries in a 20-2 Wigan win, I would hazard a guess he crept quietly home down the Crack that night, two tries for a forward in those days was something of a rarity when the quicker backs got all the glory, late in his Wigan career he again scored two tries coincidentally his last of 25 career tries, once again against Leigh on 19th March 1924 in a 43-9 hammering.

Again the journey back home that night would be met with a few looks over his shoulder. Bert Webster retired from the game on 6th September 1924 after playing all of his career alongside the great Jim Sullivan. Bert achieved a Challenge Cup win (Wigan’s first) in 1924, a League Championship in 1921 and 23 Lancashire league titles 20/21, 22/23, 23/24 to go with his Lancashire cup win. In our pieces regarding Plank Lane over the last few months we have discussed a wide variety of celebrities, from an international footballer to an international diplomat and Knight of the realm, also a world champion percussionist.

From this tough working class area we have also had first-class comedians, jazz band leaders, brass band champions and many other star rugby players which includes Joe Darwell GB tourist in 1924, plus many more local characters.

I would consider this small community which has been the butt of comedians’ jokes and derogatory remarks to have produced more celebrities of such a diverse nature than many of our country’s larger towns and cities.