In Memory Of Laurie Gilfedder

Leigh Centurions are saddened to learn of the passing of their former player and Great Britain international forward Laurie Gilfedder at the age of 83 and pass on sincere condolences to his family at this time.

Gilfedder was a top class player who joined Leigh towards the end of his illustrious career as one of new player-coach Alex Murphy’s first signings in the summer of 1967.

Murphy brought him to Hilton Park from Wigan alongside forward Harry Major for a joint transfer fee of £2,750 as part of his ambitious team-building plans that revitalised the club, culminating in the Wembley Challenge Cup win in 1971.

Gilfedder played a big part in the start of Murphy’s revolution as the team finished seventh at the end of his first season and they also reached the final of the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, losing 8-5 to Castleford.

He made his Leigh debut at loose forward against St Helens, retrospectively earning Heritage Number #758 and bowed out 14 months later after playing in a 7-7 draw against his old club Wigan at Hilton Park.

Gilfedder decided to retire from the game due to business reasons, having made 501 career appearances with 131 tries and 951 goals and amassed 2,295 points.

His Leigh career encompassed 40 games with four tries and 83 goals.

Player-coach Alex Murphy welcomes new signings Harry Major and Laurie Gilfedder to Hilton Park

Gilfedder, a former Warrington RU player began his career as a centre but later switched to the forwards after turning professional with Wire in 1951.

Standing 6ft tall and tipping the scales at 15st “Gilly” had the speed, strength and size to play either in the threequarters or as a back row forward and was an excellent goal-kicker.

When he made his Warrington first-team debut against Belle Vue Rangers in December 1951 he became the youngest-ever player to play for Wire, aged 16 years and 199 days. Subsequently only Jackie Edwards, who made his debut in 1955 aged 16 years and three months has been younger.

He made 283 appearances for the club, despite missing the best part of two years due to National Service, with 96 tries and 1,140 goals before he was transferred to Wigan for £8,000 in September 1963.

He played 142 career games for Wigan and played a major role in their classic 1965 Challenge Cup Final against Hunslet, scoring a 45-yard try and kicking three goals in the 20-16 win. He was also a member of Wigan’s 1966 Cup final side defeated by St Helens. For Wigan he scored 17 tries, kicking 384 goals.

A Great Britain tourist in 1962, he made 21 appearances on tour, making his Test debut at loose forward against Australia in the Second Test at Lang Park, Brisbane when the tourists’ 17-10 victory clinched the Ashes. It wasn’t a bad Great Britain side: Round; Boston, Ashton, N Fox, Sullivan; Poynton, Murphy; McTigue, Sayer, Herbert, Huddart, Edgar, Gilfedder.

He won five Test caps in all, also playing twice against New Zealand and twice against France and was a regular in the Lancashire side.

Warrington Wolves club historian Neil Dowson writes: “Laurie worked for 31 years as a senior warehouse supervisor at the Greenall Whitley Brewery. He was an active member of the Warrington Players’ Association. Along with wife Hilda he was a regular at matches and events at both Wilderspool and The Halliwell Jones Stadiums. He loved nothing more than watching and talking rugby league.

“Laurie was one of the original 12 inductees into the Warrington Hall of Fame. Along with his “old centre partner” Jim Challinor, Laurie will go down as one of the greatest-ever Warrington-born rugby League players.

“Laurie’s wife Hilda passed away in April last year. They had two daughters, Lynne and the late Dianne, four grandchildren and four great granddaughters. The club send their condolences to all his family and friends.”

The funeral is at Cardinal Newman Church, Knutsford Road, Warrington on Thursday 24th January at 10.30am.

Laurie Gilfedder, b Warrington 15 May 1935, d Warrington 7 Jan 2019. An obituary by Mike Latham with thanks to Neil Dowson.

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