Tag: wigan

TRIBUTE TO DAVID STEPHENSON

DAVID STEPHENSON

It was with the deepest of regret that Salford Red Devils learned of the passing of their former centre, David Stephenson, on the 16th March, 2022.

David signed to join Salford, from Fylde Rugby Union Club, in December 1978, and made his debut on 23rd January, 1979, in a home match against Rochdale Hornets, which Salford lost 4-13.  Nevertheless, David acquitted himself well, and he became a regular presence in the team for the following three years.

During that time, he was involved in two key matches, during his first year.  The first was the Centenary Celebration Match, at The Willows, on the 14th October, in front of a crowd of almost twelve thousand.  The game was intended as a replication of the club’s very first match, the previous century, with the team discarding their normal red shirts for their original strip of red, amber, and black hoops.  That first match had been against Widnes, and it was they who provided the opposition, on the day, a hundred years later.  Most remarkable of all was the fact that both games ended in a draw, this second one finishing 16-16.

Three weeks later, the two teams met in the semi-final of the John Player Trophy, at Warrington.    This time, Widnes went on to reach the final, with a 19-3 victory.

Such was David’s s skill and talent on a rugby field that, whilst at Salford, he was twice selected to represent Lancashire, against Cumbria, at Barrow, in 1980, and the following year against Yorkshire, at Castleford, both of which encounters were won by the home sides.

He was also selected to represent Great Britain, at Under-24 level, on four occasions.  Three of these were against France, all of which were won by the British.  Having beaten the French, 14-2, at Leigh, ,in 1979, David scored a try in each of the remaining two, at Carcasonne, a year later, where they won 11-7, and finally, at Headingley in 1982, where the score was 19-16.

His one reversal, at this level came in 1980, when New Zealand provided the opposition, at Fulham, where they were the winners 18-14.  He did, however, go on to receive further representative honours whilst with other clubs.

Over his three years, at The Willows, he made ninety-seven appearances and amassed a total of one hundred and sixteen points, comprising of thirty-six tries, two goals, and four drop-goals.

Sadly, by now, other clubs had designs on him, and he bowed out on 29th January, 1982, in Salford’s home 7-19 defeat to Carlisle, before moving on to join first Wigan, later Leeds, and finally Leigh, before returning to Salford to play one more match, on the 13th March, 1991, in the home fixture with Chorley Borough, which the hosts won, 46-2.  David came on as a substitute, and celebrated his return by scoring a try, to add to his tally above.

David is fondly remembered at Salford for his allegiance to the club, during his period with us, and our thoughts and sympathies go out to members of his family for their sad loss.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Graham Morris, Club Historian

Chris Hesketh (1944-2017)

Salford Red Devils are deeply saddened to hear of the death of club, and Rugby League, legend Chris Hesketh.
The centre made 452 Salford appearances scoring 128 tries for the club in an illustrious career of which he spent twelve years with the Red Devils.
Salford signed Hesketh for a fee of £4000 from his hometown club of Wigan in June 1967 and he excelled in the Red Devils jersey.
Hesketh was part of the last Salford side to play at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final back in 1969 as the Red Devils lost to tonight’s opponents Castleford.
Despite losing the Challenge Cup final Hesketh helped the Red Devils win two Championship titles, a Lancashire Cup and a Floodlit Trophy.
The iconic Red Devil didn’t just impress for Salford but on the international stage, also. He was a member of the Great Britain side that won the World Cup in France in 1972. However, his career highlight came in 1974 as he was named as captain of the 1974 Touring Side alongside a handful of fellow Salford players.
His final match for Salford was on May 13th 1979 at St Helens. Hesketh was awarded with an M.B.E in the 1976 New Years Honours as a tribute to his tremendous service and dedication to Rugby League.
Hesketh defied the odds in his search to become a professional Rugby League player battling polio at the age of seven however by the age of 11 he was playing at Central Park, Wigan in the Schools Cup Final.
There will be a tribute to remember the life of one of Salford’s greatest ever players prior to tonight’s game against Castleford.
Hesketh will be missed by all at Salford Red Devils and the thoughts of everyone at the club are with his friends, family and associates.

Watson Disappointed With End Result

Salford coach Ian Watson was left to rue a refereeing blunder that cost his side the chance of an historic result against new Super League leaders Wigan.

The Red Devils, who have lost all 19 matches with the Warriors at the DW Stadium, had fought their way back from 16-2 down to draw level thanks to three tries in a 17-minute spell from Junior Sa’u, Josh Griffin and Ben Murdoch-Masila only to concede four minutes from the end to go down 20-16.
However, referee George Stokes and his touch judges failed to spot a knock-on by Wigan forward Taulima Tautai in the build-up to the match-winning try by winger Dom Manfredi.
“I’m really disappointed with the way it ended because it looked like we should have had a share of the points,” Watson said.
“The fact he knocked on at the last play-the-ball before the score doesn’t help and the fact that we could see it in the stand and the referee and his officials can’t is a big disappointment.”
Salford had taken an early lead with a penalty goal from Gareth O’Brien but two tries from winger Oliver Gildart put Wigan into a 10-6 interval lead and the game looked to be over when centre Anthony Gelling went over three minutes into the second half.
“We gave them too much respect in the first half and you can’t do that to teams like Wigan,” Watson said. “You can’t feel them out, you’ve got to attack them from the off.
“But in the second half, you saw what we could do when we have the right mind-set. The guys realised at half-time that we hadn’t played well but we were still in the game.
“We just didn’t have enough to come through the other side. It was bitter-sweet, we felt we had them on the ropes but we didn’t have enough to finish them off. Good teams like Wigan find a way to win and we’ve still got to progress to that stage.”

Warriors sneak past Devils 20-16

Despite a valiant comeback by the Red Devils, a late Dom Manfredi try sealed victory for the Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
The Red Devils had an early chance as Rob Lui darted through the Wigan line from the play of the ball. Junior Sa’u couldn’t quite capitalise on an offload by the Salford stand-off.
An error by the home side, gifted the Red Devils the ball 20m out from the line and Wigan were then penalised.
Salford took the early lead by opting for a penalty kick, Gareth O’Brien successfully putting the Red Devils ahead just three minutes into the game.
However, just minutes later the Warriors responded as a spill of the ball by Mark Flanagan and quick thinking by Anthony Gelling and George Williams during the free play put Oliver Gildart over in the left hand corner. Matty Smith missed the conversion.
The Red Devils responded as O’Brien made a break down the left wing but Gildart intercepted his pass to Sa’u to keep the visitors at bay.
Dom Manfredi looked to have scored the next Wigan try as he collected a Matty Smith high ball but Referee George Stokes deemed him to be offside.
They were rewarded for their efforts just minutes later though as a Gelling break down the right hand side, with an offload to Tautai then Smith who passed out wide to Gildart to cross for his second of the game.
The two sides really fought for possession for a thrilling first half that ended as Josh Griffin made a fantastic break down centre field but was tackled just 20m out from the try line.
HALF TIME SCORE – Wigan Warriors 10 – 2 Salford Red Devils
Straight from the restart, Anthony Gelling found a gap in the Salford defence to score and further the lead to 16-2.
Whereas the Red Devils of old may have fallen and succumbed to a heavy defeat here, the team dug deep and responded.
First through a Junior Sa’u try as he found himself on the end of a Dobson grubber kick. Back to back penalties gave the Red Devils another chance with 15 minutes left of the game and Josh Griffin added another score. O’Brien missed both conversions.
Ben Murdoch-Masila put in a fantastic effort next as he chased his own chip kick over the Wigan defence to tackle Gildart in goal to give the Red Devils a drop out and moments later BMM barged over the line. Josh Griffin added the conversion to equal the score.
The Devils were unlucky moments later when Manfredi crossed in the right  hand corner to seal the victory for the Warriors.
 
FULL TIME SCORE – Wigan Warriors 20 – 16 Salford Red Devils

FAIRHURST CHOOSES DEVILS ABOVE ALL COMERS

David Clegg Continues His In-Depth Introduction Of The Senior Players Of Our U19s Squad With Lewis Fairhurst
As a native of Bickerhaw, on the outskirts of Wigan, it is hardly surprising that young Lewis Fairhurst started playing rugby with his local club, but, that he later continued his career with none other than archrivals, St Helens, is rather the more so.
His first introduction to the game, though, had come via his older brother, Ryan, who frequently included him in games with his own mates in the local park.  That Lewis got used to the rough and tumble, this involved, with lads a couple of years older than himself, was to stand him in good stead throughout his career to date, as he, far more often than not, ended up  playing with and against teams of players at least twelve months older than himself.
Indeed, when he first followed Ryan down to Hindley ARLFC, at the age of six, he was the only one that young, so he even started off mixing it with lads one and even two years older than himself, and this has just continued to be the case, ever since.  This, he felt, was some indication of the fact that he was considered good enough to be able to cope in that situation, and it encouraged him to remain at the club for a remarkable twelve year period, right through to the age of eighteen.
Throughout this time, he almost always turned out at hooker, although he started his very first match at half back before being moved the hooking role.  The highlight of his time with them came with their winning the North West Challenge Shield, when they beat West Bank, 28-18, in the final.  On a personal front, his contribution to the team’s effort was often noted by his achieving Top Tackler Award, though when they progressed to U14 level he was recognised, for the first of three consecutive seasons, as Player of the Year.
It invariably happens that when teams reach their early teens, they attract a great deal of attention from local professional outfits, and so it was for Lewis’s side, with scouts from both Wigan and St Helens showing considerable interest in the squad in general, but with the latter club showing rather more interest in Lewis himself.  An invitation to meet with their officials, at the age of fourteen led directly to his joining their U16s side for the following two years.
As with all St Helens sides, they proved to be a strong team, and over two seasons, each comprising of eight games, they won all but two of them.  Most significant for Lewis was his relocation on a regular basis to half back, a position he had not played in since that first half of his very first game some eight years earlier.  Lewis attributes much of the team’s success to the quality of their coaches, the most well-known of whom was Tommy Martin, whose own personal skills around tactical kicking helped develop Lewis’s own ability in this area, considerably.
As with many youngsters, moving up to the U19s, where there is a three year age span, somewhat limits their chances of selection in their first year at that level, and, although this did improve for him significantly during his second season, in the end things did not quite work out as he would have hoped, and so he looked around for another club.
One of those he contacted was Salford, and, in fact, within the hour they became the first to return his call, inviting here for the first of two meeting with, initially Head Coach, Martin Gleeson, while the second was with Head Coach elect for the 2016 season, Garreth Carvell.
He was quickly persuaded that here was where his future lay.
“After meeting them, I was convinced that this was the club I wanted to be at,” he insists.  “Others came in for me, but I had already made up my mind to come here.
“I have settled in really well, and can’t wait to get started.  I want to have the chance to show the skills and talent I have, and by using these around the other players, hopefully we can make the team work.
“Salford is a growing club, and I believe it is going to be the equal of most others in Super League.”
With a full season in which to achieve all this, Lewis is hoping that he will have sufficiently impressed the coaches for them to offer him a further contract, this time with the first team next season, as he is determined to become that Super League player he has always wanted to be.