Tributes paid to rugby league record breaker

Willie Hargreaves in action for York
Willie Hargreaves in action for York

A rugby league record breaker has died aged 83.

Willie Hargreaves, formerly of Moorhouse Grove, Stanley, played a record 446 times for York RLFC during a 13-year career.

The great grandad-of-three was inducted into their hall of fame in March this year for a career which saw him score 225 points for the club.

But it could all have turned out very differently for the promising footballer had he not turned up to watch Stanley Rangers back in 1952.

Brother David Hargreaves, of Manygates, said Stanley were one man short and his brother volunteered to play on the wing. He caught the eye of York RL scout and Wakefield school teacher Ernest Pollard who offered him a series of four trials.

There was a tradition of Stanley lads turning out for York with Brian Briggs, Laurie Milner and Jack Wilson all taking the same path.

Mr Hargreaves, 64, added: “After the last trial game they immediately signed Willie and he was in the first team the week after.”

His playing career at York spanned from November 1952 to November 1965.

Mr Hargreaves, known as the “Little Rock” won several plaudits during his career, including the best tackler in the league award in a 1960 poll by the News Chronicle.

He also won the Yorkskire Federation of supporters clubs’ award for the fairest and most loyal player. Away from the field Mr Hargreaves was schooled at Stanley Secondary Modern. He went on to work for the water board and on the railways.

He died on July 4 after a short illness. He leaves a wife Shirley, two daughters and a son, three grand children and three great-grandchildren.