Former player and coach Tommy Grainey has died after a long illness at the age of 75.
Grainey had a long and distinguished career in the game and much of it spent in partnership with Kevin Ashcroft, who was one of his closest friends.
The pair first played together in the Leigh side under player-coach Alex Murphy in the 1960s and later formed a fine coaching team at Leigh, Salford and Warrington with Tommy invariably cast in the invaluable role as assistant coach.
Grainey also acted as assistant coach to Murphy, such was the respect he also had for his knowledge of the game.
Grainey played 164 games for Leigh between his debut on 16 December 1961 and his last game on 25 March 1973, retrospectively earning Heritage Number #702. He scored 16 tries and kicked 135 goals and received a well deserved testimonial in 1971.
During his spell as assistant coach at Warrington under Murphy he made a substitute appearance during an injury crisis at Barrow in October 1976, playing his part in a 38-13 victory.
Kevin Ashcroft said: “I was so sad to hear the news about my old mate. We were close and he was like a brother to me.
“Tommy came from a large family and was one of life’s characters and 100 percent loyal. You could trust him with the Crown Jewels. He loved Rugby League and being involved in the game.
“As a player he could play across the back line, fullback, either centre position and stand-off, but fullback was his favoured position.
The only thing that let him down was pace. He had none. He was deceptively slow.
“Once, Murph got a contract with Norman Walsh, the famous boot maker from Bolton. He brought the boots into training. “Good boots these,” Alex said to Tommy, ‘’they’ll put yards on you.” Tommy replied: “I’ll have three pairs then.”
“Tommy was a great team player and he’d do anything to help out and play anywhere.”
Grainey is survived by his wife Pat and two daughters.