RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG (4) – PETER BANNER Pt 5

RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG (4) – PETER BANNER Pt 5

by | Jan 27, 2020

Part 5 – HIS POST SALFORD CAREER

Unlike most players of his era, who stayed with Salford to the end, or very close to the end of their careers, Peter’s came to its conclusion rather more quickly with his transfer to Featherstone Rovers, as part of a player exchange with Rovers’ scrum half, Steve Nash.

This was a quite remarkable transaction as it saw the exchange of the then current, England international scrum half, with the then current, Wales scrum half, at a time when the Welsh team was a really significant factor on the international stage.

“Coach, Les Bettinson, apparently didn’t even know anything about it until the deal had been finalised.  It was really quite sad how it all ended.”

He found a quite different ethos, and different type of team, at Featherstone, when he arrived there. 

“John Newlove, my new halfback partner was quite astonished at how quickly I was able to get the ball out to him.  I slotted in really well and we went on a good spell of wins which took us to the top of the league, three games from the end of the season.”

The impact that Peter had made with the Rovers did not go unnoticed by other clubs, and one in particular took it upon themselves to secure his services.

“Syd Hynes, the Leeds coach had tried to sign me from Salford, but Featherstone had beaten them to it.  Eventually being signed by Leeds was the best thing that could have happened to me, at that time, and I loved every minute of it there. 

During the 1975 world Cup Peter had made an impact with St George & Parramatta and had had discussions with them that did not materialise.  In the early part of 1977, however, whilst still at Leeds, he received a great offer from Newcastle NSW. It had been his ambition to return and play in Australia and now, aged twenty-eight, this was his chance.  Terms were agreed between Newcastle and Leeds, and Peter was contracted to begin the following season with Newcastle, in April 1977.

In the March of that year, however, Leeds we got to the Final of the Challenge Cup, beating St Helens at Wigan, and wanting Peter to be involved in the Final, at Wembley, Leeds had booked his flights to return from Australia and play.  The Rugby League, however, ruled that he was no longer a Leeds player and could not play.

Leeds, nevertheless, went on to defeat Widnes in the Final, and win the challenge Cup, and the Leeds Club responded by sending Peter his Wembley Cup Winners Medal as he had played in every round up to leaving for Australia.  Not only this Syd Hynes sent him his £300 winning pay as well!

Peter still keeps in touch with Hynes, who now lives in Perth Western Australia. So, in a relatively short but successful time at Leeds, Peter added both the Yorkshire Cup, and Challenge Cup Winners Medals to those he had won at Salford, making a complete collection of English Rugby League Silverware.

Having made the move down under, like many others before him, and since, he found the game there rather different, in many aspects, from the one he had left back in England.  Perseverance, however, was to bring its rewards.

“It took me two seasons to settle down before I was on terms with the fierceness and style of the Australian game.  Every game I was getting considerable vocal aggression from the opposition.  By my third season, though, my fitness levels really increased thanks to the training which was so demanding, and I hit some good form. 

“I was voted Best and Fairest Player in the Newcastle League’s 10 clubs, by the League’s Committee and Players from opposing teams.  I  played my last game in Coffs Harbour in 1986, thus ending  a twenty-one year career made ever so rewarding by the great comradery of players and coaches throughout, and I was proud to have been selected as Man of the Match in my last game, just as I had been on my debut all those years ago.

“There is no doubt that Rugby League is the Greatest Game of All.”

In such a physical game as rugby league, it is often sad to see promising players’ careers being shortened by serious injury, so it was particularly good to have a group of talented players who seldom seemed to pick up anything other than the odd knock.  Certainly, Peter was one of these, not just whilst at Salford, but throughout his whole career.

“In all my twenty-one year career, I never had a stitch or a broken bone, which is testament to the calibre of the teams and the players I played alongside.  It also helped that I never thought about being injured, I just got on with playing and put myself about, all over the field.  Things just seemed to work out right for me, on the back of that.”

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