Leigh Centurions have confirmed the passing of their second oldest surviving player, Dick Breare who was 93. He died suddenly on Sunday evening.
Dick Breare was an incredibly modest gentleman who played down his notable playing career and his amazing bravery as a war hero during World War Two in an interview for Leigh Centurions TV earlier this year.
He was extremely proud to have been involved in the Heritage Project this year, earning HN471 and attending the Heritage Dinner at the LSV and the Heritage Match against Workington Town in August.
Dick was actually born in Kendal in 1921 after his Leigh born father had taken a job as a gardener on the nearby Holker estate. When the family moved back to live in Leigh he developed his rugby career playing for Tyldesley RU club as a fullback.
His debut for Leigh, as he recounted recently, came about by accident. The team was short-handed during the early months of the war-time Emergency League and he was actually waiting at a bus stop when the team bus stopped and picked him up en route for an away game at Salford on October 7 1939. Press-ganged into service, Dick’s signing was rushed through and after playing that afternoon he went on to make 14 appearances before war service took him overseas for five years.
Dick served in the Navy in the North Atlantic and later was involved in mine sweeping operations in northern France prior to the Normandy landings, but he was reluctant to discuss those days, modestly saying that it was what anyone could have done.
When the war was over he resumed his career with Leigh playing alongside his friend Tommy Sale MBE who, at 96 remains Leigh’s oldest surviving player. But Dick found himself in the unenviable role as understudy to the brilliant full back Jimmy Ledgard, a record signing from Dewsbury. It was a job Dick took on with his customary good humour and he was content to play in the A team and deputise in the first team when required. Dick would have been a first team regular at many other clubs but was content to stay at Leigh and become an integral squad member during the exciting post war years as the club developed its new ground at Kirkhall Lane and attracted huge crowds.
He went on to make 69 appearances for Leigh, scoring four tries and kicking 86 goals, enjoying a good run in the first team during the 1950-51 season, when he scored two tries and kicked 53 goals in 27 games. To his great delight he even earned county honours with Cumberland due to his birthplace even though he always regarded himself as a Leyther.
Dick finished his professional career with a short spell at Widnes after a £300 transfer in November 1952, kicking five goals in seven games for the Chemics before hanging up his boots.
He continued to take a great interest in the Leigh club and, living locally was hugely proud to meet up with past players during the Heritage celebrations earlier this year.
“It was a huge honour for me to meet Dick for the first time earlier this year,” said Leigh Centurions chairman Mike Norris. “He was a lovely man who was modest and unassuming but also obviously proud to have played for Leigh. He really enjoyed being part of the heritage celebrations and was one of the guests of honour at the Heritage Dinner. His war service was exceptional and he was a very brave but very modest and unassuming person. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”