ONE of Warrington Wolves' heroes died on this day 13 years ago.

Mike Gregory battled bravely a debilitating illness that eventually took his life at the age of 43 on November 19, 2007.

He earned and continues to hold huge respect in both hemispheres for his achievements as a player and coach.

Wolves Hall of Fame inductee Gregory served Warrington and Great Britain with distinction as a player and captain, before taking on club and international coaching roles with St Helens, Swinton Lions, Wigan and Great Britain Academy.

Highlighting the place he had and still has in people's hearts, he had a street, trophy, stadium lounge and college corridor named in his honour - not something that many players have in their memory.

Mike Gregory’s playing and coaching career will never be forgotten, only embellished by ‘Mike Gregory Way’ leading into The Halliwell Jones Stadium, presentations of the Mike Gregory Spirit of Rugby League Award, students who have headed along ‘Mike Gregory Street’ inside Warrington Collegiate and those who have been hosted by Wolves officials in ‘The Mike Gregory Lounge’.

He made a name for himself in hometown Wigan before lighting up the radar of Warrington supporters.

Lancashire youth representative Gregory, a former ball boy at Wigan Athletic Football Club, played for Wigan St Patricks under 17s and 19s, captaining both sides which won every trophy available to them before signing professional for Warrington on June 8, 1982.

His back-row quality was a major asset as The Wire reached eight cup finals in the first eight of his 12 seasons at Wilderspool Stadium.

Gregory was captain of the team for two of those shots at glory and his leadership qualities were highly valued at international level too.

He became only the second Warrington player to captain the GB side and his 20 international appearances made him the club's most capped player at the time.

He was one of this country's first full-time professional rugby league players and one of the new breed of forwards – committed, smart, mobile, fast, strong, tackled like a Trojan and possessed good ball distribution skills.

In Warrington he became known as Captain Marvel for the way he led by example and for inspiring others around him.

Only 10 matches into his pro career he joined skipper Ken Kelly and company in lifting the Lancashire Cup against St Helens at Wigan’s old Central Park ground in 1983.

Gregory was in the No13 shirt when Warrington defied the challenge of the champions to convincingly defeat Halifax in the 1986 Premiership Trophy Final at Elland Road.

Nine appearances were made for Cronulla Sharks in 1987 as he tested himself in the club arena Down Under.

He was a British Coal Nines tournament winner in 1988 when Warrington defeated Rest of the World in the final at Central Park.

Another proud club moment for Gregory was his first trophy success as captain of the team, which came in the Lancashire Cup against Oldham at Knowsley Road in 1989.

And at Wembley he led out Warrington, scored one try and set up another for Dave Lyon when Wire appeared in the Challenge Cup final against Wigan in 1990.

His Test debut was memorable.

Gregory scored two tries in a record defeat of France at Headingley and no-one will ever forget, on his first tour in 1988, the 75-metre try he scored against Australia that led to a GB victory in the third Test at Sydney Football Stadium.

He went on to skipper his country in the 2-1 series defeat of New Zealand in 1989 and was captain for the following year's tour, when the Lions again defeated the Kiwis 2-1.

All of the success then appeared to take its toll as numerous injuries left him only being able to take to the field 27 times in his final four years with Warrington.

After 222 appearances for the club, Gregory finished his playing days with Salford before switching to coaching.

He was assistant coach at Saints in the Shaun McRae era 1996-98, took on the reins at Swinton Lions, while illness forced him out of his job as head coach at Wigan in 2004 – but he never gave up, writing his autobiography Biting Back and continuing to be involved in campaign work.

Former Wolves coach Paul Cullen was a teammate of Gregory’s for 12 years and they remained firm friends after their playing days.

In a tribute reflecting on Gregory’s Warrington career, Cullen said: "Mike had a very soft spot for Warrington and he took this club and this town to his heart. He will be remembered for it.

"He's up there with the very best that have ever worn the primrose and blue, not only for his on-field performance but for his conduct off it.

"He was a real ambassador, an absolute gentleman and he gave everything he possibly could to this club.”

He made his World Cup debut alongside Wire teammate Mark Forster in Great Britain's 1987 defeat of France at Headingley.

His first two World Cup ties came in that 52-4 success against France.

And that aforementioned long-range try that secured Great Britain victory in the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Football Stadium in 1988 was in a game that doubled up for World Cup points.

That came two months after he got over the line in the 42-22 win against Papua New Guinea at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.

Gregory’s first World Cup defeat came in his fourth outing, losing 12-10 to New Zealand in Christchurch eight days after the glorious victory in Sydney and ending hopes of an appearance in the final against the Kangaroos.

Then came Greg’s first World Cup game as captain of the Lions, a 10-6 win against New Zealand at Wigan in the opening clash of the 1989 to 1992 competition.

He continued as skipper on tour in 1990 as a win was achieved against PNG in Port Moresby and a loss was suffered against the Kiwis in Christchurch.

His final World Cup appearance was as a substitute in the 14-0 loss to Australia at Elland Road, Leeds, in November, 1990.