It was a long time between drinks for Leigh Centurions’ record summer era signing Micky Higham.
The 34-year-old hooker, one of an elite band of Leigh produced players to play for Great Britain, made a try-scoring second debut for the club in the 31-12 Summer Bash Kingstone Press Championship victory over Featherstone Rovers at Bloomfield Road.
Higham who joined the Centurions from Warrington Wolves in a £50,000 transfer fee in the previous midweek brought up his century for the Centurions and also broke another club record.
Leigh’s win, which extended their club record winning sequence to 26 games, featured a try by Higham early in the second half that took his tally in a Leigh jersey to exactly 100 points.
And Higham has broken the club record for the longest gap between Leigh games.
He last played on July 29, 2000, scoring two tries in a Man of the Match performance as Paul Terzis’s Centurions suffered a heart-breaking 13-12 defeat against Dewsbury Rams in the Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final at Gigg Lane, Bury.
Higham moved on from his hometown club and served St Helens, Wigan and Warrington with distinction, earning a reputation as one of the finest nines in the game. His second debut for Leigh on 24 May 2015, covered a gap of 14 years and 299 days.
The previous record for the biggest gap between Leigh games was held by forward James O’Neill who played on 21 Sep 1907 at Barrow and again at Oldham on 16 Oct 1920, a gap of 13 years 23 days. In between he played for Leeds, Normanton St John’s and served in the Forces during World War One.
James’ brother Paddy was another Leigh hero- earning a championship-winner’s medal in 1906 who later was killed in action in Flanders in 1917. James then became guardian of Paddy’s infant son Stanley who was Leigh’s mascot when they won the Challenge Cup in 1921.
Stanley, who also worked the manual scoreboard at Leigh’s old Mather Lane ground, was a good friend of Tommy Sale MBE whose association with the Club began in 1924 when he assisted Stanley in scoreboard duties.
Higham was delighted to mark his second Leigh debut in fitting style.
“It’s great to be back,” he told Leigh Centurions TV.
“I started my career with Leigh and I’ve always wanted to finish my career with Leigh. It’s been a short and sharp week this week and I’m still learning, but the lads have welcomed me with open arms.
“They are a close-knit bunch and their skill level is amazing at times. It was nice to sneak over for a try- two-yarders are about my distance now, I’ll leave the long range ones to the likes of Gregg McNally.
“It was good to score in front of a few familiar faces. I must have known about half the Leigh fans in the crowd.
“Leigh are a skilful team with some quality lads. 26 wins on the trot is special and it’s good to be part of it.
“The Summer Bash is a great concept and it’s great for the Championship. I’ve experienced the Magic Weekend the last few years and it was good to have a big occasion and play in front of a front of a big crowd. Everyone was singing and cheering away and enjoying themselves.”