They just don’t make them like Bill Ramsey any more.
Coming from South Leeds, like myself, he was someone I got to know well and like very much, and I was devastated to learn of his death, aged 76, last Monday.
Bill was a proper Rugby League player, who had a very successful career with Hunslet, Leeds, Bradford, Hull and Widnes, and really should have won more than his eight Great Britain caps.
He was also a real gentleman, who was very generous with his time and advice and passionate about the place he grew up in and talking up this great game of ours.
I first met him when I was in the juniors at Hunslet Parkside. He often used to present medals and trophies, and around our area, from where Leeds have recruited some of their best players over the years (Bill, Ken Eyre, Syd Hynes and Mick Shoebottom to name four), he was an absolute legend.
I know Rugby League has changed, but I really think Bill would have been just as effective today as he was in the sixties and seventies.
In an era when players often had to do it really tough, he could certainly match it with the best of them, and when he was at Leeds, his clashes with Castleford’s Dennis Hartley, his former Hunslet team-mate, were legendary.
But like Rocky Turner, Mal Reilly, Dick Huddart and Vince Karalius, Bill was much more than an enforcer.
He was a backrower with a brain, lovely ball skills and a great offloading game.
Bill could run out wide, score tries and set them up, but he never forgot about his defensive duties, and never shirked a tackle.
I like my Rugby League history, and I reckon the back row he formed with Bob Haigh and Ray Batten at Leeds was the equal of any the game has seen.
You had Bill’s talent and toughness, Bob’s try-scoring ability, and in Ray, a superb example of how to play as an old-style loose-forward, co-ordinating the defensive effort and creating attacks.
Of course, all three were Lions, and while Bill was very proud of his appearances at international level, the story goes that Johnny Whiteley would have picked him for the 1970 tour had he not been under the mistaken impression that he had a broken thumb.
Then he would have been able to add an Ashes success to a CV, which, even without it, is still amazing.