Alan Rathbone An Obituary

(Photo) Alan Rathbone (fifth from left back row) in the Leigh team of Sep 1979

Leigh Centurions were saddened to learn of the recent passing Alan Rathbone at the age of 57 and pass on sincere condolences to his family at this time.

Rathbone, a former amateur boxer and GB Schoolboys and BARLA Under-19s forward, began his professional career with Leigh after signing from the Colts side, making his debut at Castleford in September 1976, retrospectively earning Heritage Number 860. Kevin Ashcroft was the Leigh coach at the time and took him under his wing.

Rathbone, who grew up in the Bewsey area of Warrington, soon earned a reputation as a hard man and encountered disciplinary issues from the off, but Ashcroft saw the potential in him.

“Alan was one hard lad,” Ashcroft recalls. “He was wayward but he never gave me an ounce of trouble and he was a top rate professional. The problem was he didn’t know how to channel his football ability against his aggression. You’ve got to have both to be successful in Rugby League but it’s a case of getting the balance right.

“Opposing teams used to know this and wind him up and all too often he took the bait. Alan was frightened of nothing and nobody. If King Kong was stood in front of him he wouldn’t back down. If an elephant charged at him he wouldn’t move.

“There was one famous story that Brian Bowman, then Leigh Chairman offered him a turkey for Christmas if he didn’t get sent off. That was in September. Alan got sent off the next match. Brian came into the dressing room and said: ‘Alan, you’ve missed out on your turkey.’ Alan replied: ‘Mr Chairman, you can shove that turkey up you a***.’ Brian still laughs about that now.

“Alan was hard as nails and would have made it in Super League stood on his head. Alright, he would go off the rails but he was a good professional and always asking for advice. He didn’t always take it though.

“One day he was up against Jim Mills and I told him not to mess about with Jim, who was also renowned as a hard player. Right from the off Alan tackled him high and got retribution for his trouble and came off the worse.

“After the end of the game I said to him: ‘Why did you mess with Jim? I told you not to.’ He replied: ‘It was an accidental high shot.’ I replied: ‘Well, looking at the state of you Jim didn’t think so.'”

Rathbone was transferred to Rochdale Hornets but came back to Leigh in September 1979 and earned Great Britain Under 24s honours a few months later, playing against the French at Hilton Park alongside Leigh team mates Malcolm Swann, Des Drummond and John Woods.

The second-rower or loose-forward, who had the nicknames ‘Action’ and ‘Rambo’, was transferred to Bradford Northern in June 1981 for £17,000 and went on to make five appearances for Great Britain, making his debut against the great 1982 Kangaroos.

He later moved to Warrington in June 1985 and to Leeds in 1987. Ironically his debut for Leeds was against Leigh at Headingley and Rathbone incurred a severe jaw injury in the first half and never played again.

“It was no surprise to me when Alan played for Great Britain as he always had that potential,” Ashcroft says. “He played every game like it was his last and like many players of his generation the injuries took their toll. When I last saw him he was suffering terribly with arthritis in his knees, shoulders and hands and it was so sad to see a lad who had been so active being so incapacitated. He was a great lad was Alan and will be remembered fondly by many people.”

Alan Rathbone, born 20 Oct 1958, died 5 June 2016 aged 57.

Career summary:
Leigh 77 games, 10 tries;
Rochdale Hornets 25 games 1 try;
Bradford Northern 97 games 17 tries 1 drop-goal;
Warrington 33 games 3 tries;
Leeds 1 game.

Great Britain 5 games;
Great Britain Under-24s 2 games.

Total 240 games 31 tries 1 drop-goal.

By Mike Latham.

Centurions Shape Up For Men’s Health

Join Micky, Dayne and Sam on Sunday 12th June at our game against Featherstone Rovers to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK is the first national organisation for prostate cancer in the UK. They aim to improve the care and welfare of those affected by prostate cancer, increase investment in research, and raise public and political awareness of a long-neglected disease.

As part of the match day, the Legends Bar will be turned into the Men United Arms this is a movement for anyone who believes men are worth fighting for and the club and players are proud to be warming up in charity t-shirts to help raise awareness of the silent killer Prostate Cancer.

Leigh Centurions Chief Executive Matthew Chantler commented “The Centurions are delighted to be working with Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness of the illness at our next game, all the boys are on board and are willing to do whatever they can including wearing the charity t-shirts to warm up in on the day”

James Beeby, Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “It’s fantastic to see that Leigh Centurions has decided to raise awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer UK. By doing this they are joining Men United and helping to make a real difference in furthering the fight against prostate cancer.”

Whitehaven 12 – Leigh Centurions 36

Debutant Travis Burns scored two tries as league leaders Leigh Centurions went five points clear at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship with a 36-12 victory over Whitehaven.

Leigh raced into a 12-0 lead after 11 minutes through tries from Josh Drinkwater and Adam Higson, with Ben Reynolds successfully converting both scores. But Whitehaven responded as John Paul Brocklebank and Louis Jouffret\’s converted scores drew the hosts level at the break.

The visitors would then go on to score 24 unanswered points in the second half as Burns went over for a brace of tries before converting scores from Cory Paterson and Greg Worthington to put the game to bed.

Centurions Sign Travis Burns

Leigh Centurions are delighted to confirm the signing of Travis Burns on loan from St Helens until the end of the current season.

The 31-year-old Queenslander is a vastly experienced player in both the NRL and Super League and though best known as a goal-kicking stand-off is a highly versatile pivot player.

After beginning his NRL career with Manly in 2005, Burns later played for North Queensland Cowboys and Penrith Panthers before making the move to Hull KR in 2013. After two impressive seasons there he moved to St Helens for a reported £60,000 fee on a three-year contract.

He is credited with just over 200 senior appearances, 127 gained in eight seasons in the NRL and in his first season with Hull KR showed his prowess as a goal-kicker, landing 80 goals including two drop goals.

Leigh Centurions Head Coach Neil Jukes said: “Travis will add huge experience to our squad. He will no doubt enhance the culture and standards off the field just as much as on it.

“He is a great competitor and wants to win at all costs which I’m sure will bear well with his new team mates and in particular our great fans. There is one goal to achieve and should we give ourselves a chance to prevail we will need quality in depth across the board. With Travis and with Gregg McNally nearing in on full fitness it certainly creates that.

“A lot of Super League clubs were interested in securing Travis’s services but he showed a strong desire to join our Club which speaks volumes for the feedback he was given by current and previous players and again gives us all confidence that we are moving in the right direction on and off the field.

“I’d like to thank Mike Rush, the CEO at St Helens and George Mimis (Travis’s agent) in particular for their help during this process and look forward to welcoming Travis to our Club.”

Leigh Centurions Owner Derek Beaumont said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Travis to our Club and is yet again a ‎clear indication of our ambitions to reach Super League. We have been monitoring his position for a while and I had no hesitation in supporting Neil and his team in making the move once the opportunity arose.

“Anything that can strengthen the squad and its opportunity to achieve its goals must be capitalised upon where possible and whilst this increases competition in the squad and adds pressure to the selection process that can’t be a contributing factor when making signings.

“Apart from my desire and single minded approach to succeed I also have a significant amount of money invested in the Club with increased commitments next year and therefore it would be naive of me not to support those I empower to shape the right squad to select from to reach Super League. We fell well short in the 8s last year after a great season and looking at the teams likely to be in the Middle 8s at this stage we will have a very tough job on our hands.

“We are going well and sit top of the league but we will not become complacent and rest on our laurels. We have now got a solid coaching team in place with Cookey’s addition and that will be even stronger next year when Kieron is added.

“I will listen to them and support them as I have always stated I will and I look forward to Travis earning his opportunity to showcase the skills that have made him so successful in the game. It is a great time to be a Leigh Centurions fan and I urge all our passionate fans to spread the word of what is going on in the LSV and bring a friend as we shape the Club’s future.”

Ben Evans Joins Centurions On Loan

Leigh Centurions are pleased to confirm that Ben Evans has joined the Club on one month’s loan from Warrington Wolves with immediate effect.

The 23-year-old former GB Academy international prop forward follows in the footsteps of his twin brother Rhys who made eight appearances for the Centurions on dual registration from the Wolves in 2011, earning Leigh Heritage Number 1349.

Bridgend born, Ben Evans came through the Warrington youth system and made his Super League debut during a one year’s loan spell at Bradford Bulls in 2013, making a total of 17 appearances for the Bulls.

He made his Wolves debut in 2014 and has made a total of 19 Super League appearances for his parent club and represented Wales on four occasions. This season he has made two appearances for Rochdale Hornets on dual registration.

Leigh Centurions Head Coach Neil Jukes said: “We are a bit down on troops in the next couple of weeks and it was important we did things right by the team and ensured there was enough cover and strength and competition for places.

“We are always on the look-out for good, young and hungry players and Ben has enough Super League experience to add to our team and enhances the strength across the board.”

Bradford Bulls 20 – 24 Leigh Centurions

Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches with a thrilling 24-20 victory over Bradford in the final match on the opening day of the Summer Bash in Blackpool.

The Bulls led 10-0 after only nine minutes after scoring tries through Danny Williams and Mitch Clark – plus a goal from Danny Addy- but the Centuriions struck back with scores from wingers Liam Kay and Adam Higson and new signing Josh Drinkwater to go 18-10 in front early in the second half.

Adam O’Brien cut Leigh’s advantage to just four points after 53 minutes and, after Addy plunged over for his side’s fourth try six minutes from the end to level the scores, Oscar Thomas added the conversion to put Bradford back in front.

The lead lasted only four minutes, however, as Centurions captain Micky Higham won the race to Drinkwater’s grubber kick to score the match-winning try and Ben Reynolds kicked his fourth goal.