Leigh Centurions are mourning the loss of one of their greatest ever servants, Tommy Sale MBE, aged 97.
Tommy’s long association with the club started as a scoreboard operator and he went on to become captain of the club as well as a respected administrator.
He became Leigh’s first post war captain and oversaw the construction of Hilton Park which was to become Leigh’s home for 60 years.
Working long hours into the night, he led a team of volunteers working on the ground which opened in 1947.
It was one of his proudest achievements and in 2003, he had a stand at the ground named in his honour to mark his 85th birthday.
“The reason Hilton Park is so special,” said Tommy. “Was because it was built by the people of Leigh, for the people of Leigh.”
Even in his 90s, Tommy was a regular sight at the ground as timekeeper and club president. He was well respected throughout the rugby league community.
In 2011, he was awarded the MBE for services to the sport and it was one of his proudest moments to receive the award at Buckingham Palace.
The club issued a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by new of Tommy’s death.
Leigh director Mike Latham said: “Tommy, who was the club’s Life President was the single most influential person in the history of Leigh Rugby League Club and his passing marks not only the end of an era and involvement spanning 90 years but means that somehow things will never be the same again.
“Tommy loved Leigh and he loved Leigh Rugby League Club, the players, the fans, the volunteers, the officials and he realised the huge importance of the club to the fabric and wellbeing of the town.
“He had a rich and varied life in many other ways, with distinguished war service and as a respected headteacher and devoted family man which many others will doubtless write about in the many tributes which are set to follow.”