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Archive - Monday, 14 September 1998
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FORMER WIRE GREATS RETURN FOR CENTENARY
WARRINGTON'S past players revelled in the limelight again on Sunday.
Around 50 ex-Wire greats paraded on the pitch as part of the Wilderspool Centenary celebrations prior to the Wolves' Super League battle with Huddersfield.
Wire legend and record goalkicker Steve Hesford summed up the feelings of all the former greats on show.
He said: "It has brought the memories flooding back.
"Wilderspool has always been a special place and while we were walking on to the pitch we were all talking and there was no doubt everyone had a buzz.
"I was chatting with Mike Nicholas and Bob Eccles and said: "Look at it. Isn't it brilliant? This is a special place.""
Hesford, who holds five club records, was a leading light with Wire from 1975 to 1985. But has blonde locks have gone and many failed to recognise the 44-year-old when he arrived at Wilderspool with dark short hair and a black moustache.
"Not doing bad for nearly 45 am I? Many thought Gazza started the blonde hair craze. No! Steve Hesford started all the blonde hair," he joked.
Hesford added: "Wilderspool hasn't changed at all. I was still with the club when the new stand went up and now it is exactly the same as when I left.
"What I have missed most is the camaraderie. All the old players have been here today and although I haven't seen some of them for 10 years it has been as though we have never been away.
"All the old 'crack' started again and that is something you miss when you finish playing Rugby League."
Hesford enjoyed some glorious times with the Wire but strangely it was one of the disappointments which stood out when he walked on to the Wilderspool pitch on Sunday.
He said: "I missed a kick from in front of the posts against Workington when we lost 1-0. That sings out more than anything else."
Hesford, who had a hip replacement three years ago and probably as a rugby war wound, was at Wilderspool for the first time in five years for the centenary reunion.
He said: "The game is much different now. Players are a lot fitter nowadays which has to be expected because they are full time players.
"They tend to be a different shape than 15 years ago. The likes of Dave Chisnall were brilliant ball handlers but nowadays all the players are slimline. Everyone's built like a centre..
"I think that sometimes the game is a little bit stereotyped. We were allowed to do our own thing. Now it tends to be a set plan which players have to stick to."
Hesford is enjoying life to the full.
He said: "I'm not a millionaire yet but life is brilliant. With my hip replacement I looked to an easier life but it isn't much easier now in the pub trade. I have a little pub in Littleborough and I am enjoying it.
"And I have enjoyed the experience of returning to Wilderspool too. There is nothing better than going back to see old friends and having a good chat together."
Hesford's records at Wilderspool: Most goals in career (1,159); most goals in season (170 in 1978/79); most points in career (2,416); most drop goals in career (47); goals scored in consecutive games (71 games).
Former players at Wilderspool on Sunday included: Mike Kelly, Gilly Wright, Peter O'Toole, Alf Arnold, Ken Padgett, Ali Brindle, Derek Finnegan, Brian Glover, Peter Clarke, Parry Gordon, John Lowe, Joe Price, Derek Clarke, Brian Brady, Jackie Melling, Bill Kirkbride, Jimmy Fairhurst, Laurie Gilfedder, Bob Eccles, Kevin Ashcroft, Mike Nicholas, Mike Peers, Clive Jones, Keith Affleck, Roy Lester, Norman Turley, George Thornton, John Fieldhouse, Glen Knight, Billy Pickup, Mick Blacker, Dave Weavill, Bill Shankland, Eric Frodsham, Joe Whittaker, Sid Rowan.
Converted for the new archive on 13 March 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.