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THOSE who were privileged to see Harry Bath play for Warrington, speak of him in the same breath as Brian Bevan.
And that has to be the ultimate compliment to the playing abilities of Bath, who died, aged 83, in his native Australia on October 4, 2008, after a long battle with illness.
While Bevan set about dismantling some of the game’s best defences on the way to a world record number of tries in Warrington’s most successful period, the wing king and his three-quarter colleagues needed players in the team who would help to lay the platform for scores.
World-class back rower or prop Bath, considered along with Bevan to be the best Australians never to play for their country but starred for Other Nationalities instead, did exactly that as he brought a new dimension to forward play in 346 appearances for Wire between 1948 and 1957.
The qualities that had helped Balmain achieve Australian Premierships in 1946 and 1947, as well as later taking St George to glory in 1957, 1958 and 1959, brought him success with Warrington twice in the Challenge Cup and twice in Championship Finals.
While he was a willing worker in defence, the lethal goal kicker also became Warrington’s most prolific try-scoring forward and highest points scorer at that stage in the club’s history.
Bath still holds a club record for scoring 363 points in the 1952/53 season.
He famously kicked two goals in the 4-4 Challenge Cup Final draw with Halifax at Wembley in 1954, with Warrington going on to win the replay in front of a then world record crowd of 102,569 at Bradford’s Odsal Stadium.
Bath also kicked the four goals that gave Warrington an 8-7 victory over Halifax in the Championship Final at Maine Road to seal the double that year.
His two kicks, along with Bevan’s try, also steered Warrington to their last Championship title in 1955, while five years earlier he was among the try scorers as he skippered Wire to a 19-0 success against Widnes in the 1950 Challenge Cup Final.
Laurie Gilfedder, who played alongside Bath 37 times at the start of his own stunning career with Warrington and Great Britain, said: “He was one of the best forwards I played alongside.”
And Gilfedder also saw the makings of Bath as the coach who led Balmain to two Australian Grand Finals in the 1960s as well as steering St George to two Premierships in the 1970s, after leading his country to World Cup titles in 1968 and 1972.
“He was at the back end of his career over here when I first started,” said Gilfedder, who agreed that Bath has always remained revered in these parts.
“As a young player, he would help you all he could. He would tell you to ‘do this’ and ‘do that’. He’d help anyone.
“He was a gentleman off the field but I wouldn’t say he was a gentleman on the field.
“I’m trying to think of a player to compare him to in today’s game but I don’t think there is anyone.
“The closest player I can think of is Warrington’s Ben Westwood.
“Westwood would have gone well in our era with being rugged and no-nonsense, and Harry was on those lines.
“Harry would be on the go for 80 minutes and he was a fair goal kicker, too - and that was on pitches so muddy that you needed a shovel to dig yourselves out sometimes.”
Gilfedder also recalled the bubbly character who welcomed customers into his pub.
“He was full of life, especially when he was the landlord of the Britannia in town.
“Harry was a good landlord and we used to go in there after games and have a few drinks with him.”
HARRY BATH: 1925 to 2008.
Challenge Cup winner: 1950, 1954.
Championship winner: 1954, 1955.
Points-in-a-season record: 363 in 1952/53.
Warrington all-time top five points scorers.
1975-85 Steve Hesford, 2,416pts.
1945-62 Brian Bevan, 2,288pts.
1997-now Lee Briers, 2,145pts.
1948-57 Harry Bath, 1,894pts.
1928-40 Billy Holding, 1,686pts.
Warrington all-time top five goal scorers.
1975-85 Steve Hesford 1,159.
1997-2008 Lee Briers 895.
1928-40 Billy Holding 834.
1948-57 Harry Bath 812.
1969-79 Derek Whitehead 734.
Premiership winner: Brisbane Souths 1945; Balmain 1946, 1947; St George 1957, 1958, 1959.
Premiership winning coach: St George 1977, 1979.
World Cup winning coach: Australia 1968, 1972.
England League XIII.
New South Wales.