Rugby League star was most expensive player

Horace Grainger Photo
Horace Grainger Photo

A sporting gentleman who was the most expensive Rugby League player of his day has died.

Havercroft-born Horace Grainger died at Pinderfields Hospital on March 1 aged 84 after a long battle with illness.

He was one of five children who went to the village primary school, then Felkirk Secondary Modern, before being employed at the brickworks at Monckton Colliery and later on the railways.

In 1949 Mr Grainger was called up for national service and joined the King’s Own Light Infantry, where he was battalion boxing champion and football captain.

Then, aged 22, he was sought by Burnley Football Club, and joined Chesterfield for two seasons.

As a rugby player he joined Eastmoor Amateur Rugby League Club before being signed up by Dewsbury after talent scouts were impressed with his speed and physical size.

In 1958, Hunslet paid £2,000 for him, making him the most expensive Rugby League player of the time.

He later joined Bradford Northern and retired in 1964 before becoming a football referee and holding several other roles in rugby and football.

He went on to become president of Yorkshire County Rugby League in the 1980s.

He is survived by Mabel Grainger, his wife of 58 years, daughter Anne Rowland, and grandsons George and Henry Grainger.

Mrs Grainger, of Sandal, Wakefield, said: “He was a sporting gentleman. He was a people person.

“ He loved people and was respected by colleagues in the different places where he worked.

“I don’t think he had a single dissenter because he liked people and was liked.”

A funeral will be held today at Wakefield Crematorium.