WARRINGTON RLFC Players’ Association’s hall of fame is now 46 names strong after three additions were named at the annual sportsman’s luncheon.
Past players Mike Nicholas and Bob Eccles, both ex-internationals, join other club legends in the ranks, while Jackie Hamblett’s service behind the scenes was marked by honorary membership.
Bobby Wanbon, left, and Derek Whitehead, right, welcomed Nicholas, second from left, and Eccles, second from right, to the hall of fame after induction by chairman George Thornton, centre, for all they have given to rugby league.
Hamblett joined Warrington in 1919 and worked with the club until 1979 as kitman/ groundsman.
He not only looked after the pitch at Wilderspool but also looked after the players, making sure their kit was as good as it could be.
Nicholas played 152 games for Warrington between 1972 and 1980 and represented Wales six times. He was a Challenge Cup winner in 1974.
Eccles played 291 games for Warrington, scoring 119 tries, 38 goals and eight drop goals. He scored 37 tries in a season for Warrington, a total only bettered by the great Brian Bevan.
* Below, see more background on the new inductees and the full list of the hall of fame membership.
WHEN the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Signed in 1972 as a second-row forward from Aberavon RU, the 5ft 9in, 14st Welshman made his debut at home against Barrow in an easy 55-17 victory, as the club would go on to win the league leadership that season.
In 1974 he scored a try after coming on in the Player's No. 6 Trophy final defeat of Rochdale 27-16.
Three months later a Wembley Challenge Cup final triumph over Featherstone by 24-9 turned out to be 'ecstasy and agony'. He had played a leading role, scoring the second try, and being a contender for the man of the match award, when he suffered a knee injury late on which caused him to miss not only the summer Tour 'Down Under' with Great Britain but a chance of joining Australian side, Manly.
A return to Wembley the following year saw him come on as a substitute in defeat against Widnes.
In January '78 as a 'mud caked' prop forward he helped Warrington to a John Player triumph over Widnes, and later that year he gave another outstanding performance in famously defeating the mighty Australia 15-12.
A tough competitor, Nicholas could overstep the mark, as his disciplinary record of 15 sendings-off showed!
His final appearance for the club came at Blackpool in a 9-3 win, at a price (a six-match ban), sent-off late in the game for fighting!
Nicholas played for his beloved Wales on six occasions, which included two as sub.
'Nicho' joined the new Cardiff City Blue Dragon club in August 1981, and later managed the Welsh national team.
He was influential in setting up the Warrington Past Players’ Association in 1992 as the inaugural chairman.
First game: 08/10/1972
Last game: 17/04/1980
BOB Eccles is the highest try-scoring forward in the club’s history, scoring many spectacular tries with his entertaining style of play.
Eccles was born in St Helens in July 1957, and was discovered by the then Warrington coach, Alex Murphy, playing football for Culcheth in a local league, although he had played rugby league for Rochdale Hornets Colts.
At 6ft 1 in and 15st 4lb, Eccles made his debut for Warrington in a narrow 14-17 home defeat to Salford, from the substitute’s bench, and went on to play an impressive 291 times for the club.
His form as a second-row forward got him a call for the Great Britain under 24s, for whom he played twice.
Season 1982-83 proved to be phenomenal for Eccles as he topped the Rugby League’s try-scoring chart with an unbelievable 37 touchdowns, which included five tries in a match against Blackpool Borough in December 1982.
He also set a forward record, of scoring in nine consecutive matches. Many times he was just too difficult to stop, a case off force = mass x acceleration.
Eccles collected winners’ medals for the John Player Trophy in 1978 and 1981, and Lancashire Cup in 1980 and 1982, before a number of broken right arms nearly scuppered his career.
His final game for the 'Wire' was on the 'hallowed turf' at Old Trafford, Manchester, in the 1987 Premiership Final.
Coming on from the substitutes’ bench he couldn't prevent Wigan from claiming the prize, 0-8, in front of 38,756.
Sold to Second Division Springfield Borough in August 1987, he gave service to a number of lower league clubs until calling it a day in 1996.
Eccles got one cap for Great Britain, against the powerful Australian touring side of 1982.
First game: 14/09/1977
Last game: 17/05/1987
Drop Goals: 8
JACKIE Hamblett came to Wilderspool as a young lad in 1919 to help out the then Wilderspool Stadium groundsman Jackie Parker, and then made it his home for 60 years!
The players soon realised however, that Jackie was not getting paid and brothers Billy and Tommy Cunliffe, along with Jim Tranter, who were Warrington stars of the day, soon formed a deputation on his behalf to see the club committee to get matters put right.
They emerged from the boardroom to announce to Jack that he was now on the staff payroll, and to be paid 4/6d for first-team duties, and 3/0d for 'A' team duties.
Hamblett was the official kit man, with the responsibility that the kit was washed and aired and that the boots were cleaned and repaired. Unofficially though, he was a friend and confidant to the players. He tended to all their needs, as well as having many a struggle with the old stand's rebellious coal fired boiler!
Nobody new Aussie wonder winger Brian Bevan better than Hamblett. He would massage 'Bev' in the dressing room to get him in the peak of fitness, and ease any worries the winger would have when bandaging him up for the game.
He also collected photographs that were left in the dressing room, and put them in albums for future generations to enjoy.
On match days he could be seen watching the game from the top of the tunnel.
As a tribute to his 50 years at Wilderspool Stadium, the club granted him a Testimonial, which included in late 1969 a reunion of current and former stars.
In January 1971, he was presented with a cheque for £542, being the money raised from his Testimonial fund.
He died in February 1991, aged 86, ironically just before Bevan passed away.
Hamblett looked after many a player, the way he nurtured the turf. To Hamblett the club what his all, he gave so much, and took so little - he was 'Mr Wilderspool'.
WARRINGTON RLFC PLAYERS ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME MEMBERSHIP
Jack Arkwright (Snr)
Jackie Hamblett (Honorary)