HIS first job was carrying bottles at the brewery before playing for the team whose ground now stands in place of it.
That is the story of former Warrington Wolves forward Joe Whittaker, aged 83, who pulled the first pint at a charity beer festival at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday.
There was an ale on offer from every team in Super League.
In 1944, Joe was a 14-year-old boy about to start work in the Tetley Walker’s brewery, which used to sit on the land now occupied by the home ground of Wolves.
He said: “I left school on the Friday and was working by the Monday, so you can tell what sort of education I had.
“My first job was stacking up crates in the plant, which was good training for rugby because it was hard, physical work.”
When Joe, of Cliffe House, Appleton, began working on delivery vans, taking beer to pubs in Liverpool, his duties began to change.
“There would be three of us in the vans; me as the young lad in the middle, the driver and another man on delivery.
“As you were came up to a pub, kids would try and take bottles of beer.
“You’d see these little fingers come up and it would be my job to whack their fingers so they didn’t take the beer.”
Joe, who played for Wolves for three years until a knee injury ended his career cruelly aged just 19, also helped out with the driving.
“At each pub, the driver would get offered a drink, but I didn’t because I was under age,” he said.
“One day we were coming down Tanners Lane and went to turn onto Dallam Lane.
“The driver told me to take the wheel and said ‘get it round the corner because I can’t see what I’m doing.”
The former soldier took to beer soon after, and on Friday was drinking Blueberry, at the festival organised by the Wolves Foundation.
Neil Kelly, director of the Wolves Foundation, said the fundraiser was aimed at supporting work by the charity.
He said: “This will an annual event, and what better place to have it.”