Talking Rugby League: Rest in peace, Johnny Whiteley

Johnny Whiteley’s death was not reported until last Monday, which was too late for inclusion in last week’s edition of League Express.

Although I knew Johnny, I obviously didn’t know him as well as many people connected with Hull FC and the club did a magnificent job commemorating him last week and before Saturday’s game at the MKM Stadium.

Reading his obituaries, it’s amazing to think, in these days of full-time players, that Johnny, at the height of his fame, worked in the fish docks in Hull and then as a drayman. So anyone might watch him on a Saturday doing something magical on the pitch and then see him during the week working like everyone else. That goes some way to explain Rugby League’s strong links with its community.

And of course you might have seen Johnny, who was a fitness fanatic all his life, pounding the streets, even after he had retired.

The thing that I found strangely satisfying about his death was that he was able to listen to his beloved Hull on the radio beating Wakefield Trinity last Sunday before he passed away.

For Johnny, I’m sure that he might have finally passed away with a smile on his face after listening to that radio broadcast.

Des to be laid to rest

Meanwhile the Rugby League Benevolent Fund has confirmed, on behalf of the family of Des Drummond, the funeral arrangements of the legendary winger.

It will be held at Leigh Parish Church on Monday February 28th at 2pm, which will be followed by a private family committal.

There will be a funeral procession passing Leigh Sports Village at 1:30pm, for fans to pay their respects.

Leigh Centurions will remember and celebrate Des’s life before the Challenge Cup tie against Widnes Vikings on the same evening.

I hope that as many people as possible will be able to witness that funeral procession.

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