Rugby League’s odd job men
As a Christmas present from us to you, over the next 12 days we will feature some of the best content from Rugby League World in 2016. First up, DAVE HADFIELD takes a look at some of the sport’s past players, and the unlikely jobs they had away from the game.
JOHN WOODS – RAT CATCHER
The brilliant Leigh and Warrington stand-off was listed in the Guinness Rugby League Who’s Who (published 1991) as a labourer. He also drove a lorry at one stage, but it is his time as a Rodent Control Officer that gnaws on the memory.
He must have done as thorough a job with the rats of Leigh as St Patrick did on the snakes of Ireland, because there can never have been a rodent as fast or as clever as Woods.
JEFF GRAYSHON – BRICKMAKER
The Who’s Who – pretty much The Bible for this sort of information – describes the evergreen Bradford Northern stalwart Jeff Grayshon as a brick-maker. His son, Paul, against whom he played on more than one occasion, is listed as a brick moulder – a subtle distinction that was no doubt significant in the Grayshon household.
NICKY KISS – PLUMBER
With the benefit of hindsight, the Wigan hooker was a precursor for the eventual invasion of plumbers with their roots in Eastern Europe.
There was something timeless and reassuring about seeing his beat-up van, no doubt full of cisterns and plungers, parked alongside the flash motors on training night.
Try as I might, though, I can’t quite turn him into Rugby League’s Tom Finney.
IAN LUCAS – ANTIQUES DEALER
The Wigan prop had a thriving business in Aspull that he combined with his rugby, until Paul Harragon effectively ended his playing career and a couple of seasons at Leigh put him off coaching.
Here’s a question: How come players at the first club to go full-time had such interesting occupations?
GED BYRNE – WINDOW-CLEANER
By 1991, industries that were obsolete or becoming obsolete accounted for declining numbers of miners and printers, to name but two sources of employment.
On the other hand, people would always need window-cleaners, wouldn’t they? Rugby League’s best-known chamois-wielder was the Salford and Wigan centre.
I never had the pleasure of employing him, but I once moved into a house that Colin Tyrer included on his round.
He was slow, but thorough. Used to get right into the corners. His son, Shaun, of Wigan and Whitehaven, took over, but frankly was not in the same class.
PETER SMETHURST – BUTCHER
No build-up to a Cup tie involving Salford or Leigh during his time there was complete without Peter, with his blood-stained apron and spectacularly broken nose, promising to chop the opposition down to size.
Graeme West arrived on these shores as a butcher, but spent more time as a lottery manager and a taxi driver.
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