Talking Rugby League: There will never be another like ‘unique’ Maurice Lindsay

On Friday I was one of a small number of journalists who were treated to a private screening of a seven-minute film that celebrates Wigan’s 150-year history.

The film shows Martin Offiah reading a poem written by English poet, performer and writer Tony Walsh.

Wigan launched the film at 7.00pm on Monday on the club’s website.

I would recommend everyone, not just Wigan supporters, to tune in to an excellent piece of work that captures the essence of Wigan as a town and a Rugby League club superbly.

Tony Walsh has done a great job and I was impressed by Martin’s reading of the poem, which he did with a great deal of respect and gravitas.

It is appropriate that the film should have its premiere this week, when Wigan are heading once again to the Challenge Cup Final and when one of the club’s greatest icons, Maurice Lindsay, has recently died.

It’s not often that someone who isn’t a player or a coach becomes a club legend, but Maurice is one of the few people to fall into that category.

Since the announcement of his death last week, there have been many people both within and beyond Rugby League who have paid tribute to him.

Many people have pointed out that Maurice was easy to fall out with, but then he was very easy to make friends with again.

He had a fine, mischievous sense of humour.

When he was in charge at Wigan, I would often telephone him, asking whether he could give me a story.

His response was often to suggest that we might care to link Wigan with a superstar who he was considering making a bid for. And most of those bids were successful ones.

After all, he certainly didn’t please everyone all the time, mainly because he wasn’t afraid to make decisions, even when sometimes they were the wrong ones, of which there were several. Think back to 1996, when he dropped a public relations blunder by ordering some players to return home before the end of the New Zealand tour, ostensibly to save a few pounds on hotel costs.

Maurice himself admitted it was probably his greatest blunder.

But the positives outweighed the negatives, even if other people involved in the game couldn’t progress Maurice’s vision.

Many people have said that there will never be another one like him.

And I think that is absolutely correct.

Maurice was unique and we have lost someone who truly loved Rugby League.

The passing of Les Dyl

We seem to be having a year with far too many of our iconic Rugby League personalities sadly passing away.

The latest is the great Les Dyl, whose death was reported on Sunday.

Les was a one-club man, playing 434 games for Leeds between 1970 and 1985, before retiring and then making a brief comeback in the 1988/9 season with Bramley, who were then a semi-professional club.

Les also won numerous England and Great Britain caps and it’s fair to say that when he was at his supreme best, he was one of the greatest centres to have represented his country.

His career coincided with the career of Leeds’ greatest ever player, the great John Holmes. I had many hours of pleasure watching those two wonderful players, although unfortunately at the time I was a Wakefield supporter who frequently saw them defeating Trinity.

He played a key role in Leeds’ two Challenge Cup Final victories against Widnes and St Helens in 1977 and 1978 in the days when the Cup Final could sell out Wembley. I’m sure the RFL will remember him at this Saturday’s game at Tottenham Stadium.

Les died at the age of 69. In next week’s League Express we will run a full obituary of this great player.

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