BILL Shankland looks back on 91 years of life lived to the full. The Australian came to play at Wilderspool in 1931 and was so busy enjoying a sporting career that spanned 70 years that he never found the time to travel back to his native country.

Shankland, starting out as an accomplished boxer and cricketer down under, first came to England when he toured with the Australian Rugby League side in 1928/29.

He scored 35 tries as a winger on the tour and made enough of an impression to have a number of English clubs clambering for his signature. He eventually returned in 1931 and decided to sign on with Warrington because he had become friendly with club secretary Bob Anderton.

Shankland was interviewed shortly before his tragic death in 1998.

At the time he said: "I decided I wanted to come to England because I'd enjoyed the tour and also knew I wanted to get into professional golf and that would be easier over here.

"I got on wonderfully well with Bob Anderton so I came to Warrington. I was told it would be terribly wet before I set off but Wilderspool was a wonderful ground to me. I have nothing but happy memories of the place.

"We used to get crowds of 10,000 to 12,000 in those days and the people were always very friendly."

Shankland made an immediate impression when he scored on his debut against St Helens Rec on August 29, 1931, and followed it up with another try against Swinton the following week.

He went on to make 231 appearances for the club during the next seven years, scoring 74 tries and kicking 70 goals. Retiring from the game allowed him to concentrate on his burgeoning golf career and he went on to appear in every British Open between 1937 and 1955, making the last day cut on each occasion.

He said: "I tied for third place twice and came second in 1947 but I never managed to win. It was a tremendous competition and I played with some great players."

He worked as the professional at Temple Newton course for many years until he was wooed to the Jewish-owned Potters Bar course in 1951.

Shankland said: "J.B. Reubens was one of the richest men in the country at the time and because many Jews had difficulty getting membership to clubs, he decided to buy one.

"He asked would I like to work for him and I told him I was one of the highest paid players in the country so he asked me how much I earned.

"I told him £650 a month and he said they would pay me £1,500. I spent 25 years there until 1976. The people were superb and I enjoyed every minute."

One of the young hopefuls that came under Shankland's wing during his time there was a cocky 16-year-old by the name of Tony Jacklin.

It was to prove a difficult but highly successful relationship. Shankland said: "I loved Tony's mother and father but the boy himself was a shocker. He was a cheeky devil and it took a lot of work to get him into shape. I had to keep him under my thumb but he had great talent and worked hard even though he always thought he was right about everything. I still maintain he wouldn't have become the player he was if I hadn't sorted him out."

Shankland, who was married to Daphne for 67 years until her death, continued to play exhibition matches and raised money for charities but gave up the game in 1996 after damaging his shoulders in a fall.

Shankland concluded: "I was involved with golf for a lot longer than rugby but it was playing for Warrington that gave me the chance to come to this country and make my home here and I will never forget the good times I had there."