By IAN GOLDEN
JONNY LEATHER, who had a varied part-time career mainly with League One clubs, has died at the age of 33 after a long battle against colon cancer.
Leather came through the amateur ranks at Widnes St Marie’s before making his professional debut at Blackpool Panthers in 2008, when aged 18. In his three years with the club, he scored 34 tries, 82 goals and two field-goals in his 61 games, winning the Championship 1 Young Player of the Year award in 2009 during his time there.
After the Panthers were wound up, he spent a year back at St Marie’s before spending time with Rochdale Hornets and Oxford, during the latter club’s short existence.
Primarily playing at fullback, but also turning out on the wing or in the halves, he was the Hornets’ leading try scorer in 2012 and Oxford’s leading points scorer in 2013, also scoring the club’s first ever try.
Switching to rugby union, he played a year at Widnes RUFC and eventually got back into Rugby League at South Wales Scorpions under the coaching of his old friend Mike Grady, where he turned out 16 times. He later had brief spells with Gloucestershire All Golds and North Wales Crusaders, where he was also assistant coach to Grady, before returning to the community game, where he coached at Halton Farnworth Hornets.
His professional career ended with 119 appearances, 68 tries, 122 goals and four field-goals for a total of 520 points.
He began to feel unwell in February last year but his illness was initially misdiagnosed by all. In May, he was finally diagnosed with colon cancer. He started chemotherapy treatment in August, which failed and the cancer grew.
He leaves his widow Rachel and four children, Cameron, Mason, Kaitlin and Billy.
The Hornets have established a JustGiving page to help his family.
It can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/leanne-slavin?utm_term=gQjXjWBjE.