RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG – KEN GILL (PT5)

Part 5 – HIS POST SALFORD RUGBY CAREER

The constant demand for him to relocate elsewhere did eventually, in 1978, lead to Ken Gill making the move to up-and-coming Widnes, where he went on to add a further First Division Championship medal to the two he had already won, in 1974 and 1976 with Salford.

“Doug Laughton was playing for them at the time, and he just caught me at the right time, when things at Salford had been a little less settled, and he persuaded me to give it a try at Widnes.  Away from rugby I had got into the pub trade and that was starting to take over a large proportion of my time, whilst bringing in significantly more money than I was getting playing rugby.

“The change was just what I needed at that time, and I went on to have a tremendous, few months with them, and I became the only player in the game then to have won three Championship medals.  Widnes were absolutely made up when we won because they had thought that that would have been much further down the line for them.

“All clubs have their own unique environment, and the fans at Widnes, at that time, were rather harder to please than I had experienced at Salford, but I did eventually win them round, before I left.

“The players, though, just seemed totally mystified by how I managed to make the team function, and some of them even tried copying my tricks, only to find out that there was a whole lot more to it than what they could actually see.”

The missing ingredient, of course, was vision.  Kenny was like a chess player who could see exactly what would happen four moves ahead, but also the execution and timing of every pass was absolutely crucial.

The end of the season, however, brought a most unexpected move to Barrow.

“Bill Oxley was the Chairman, there, and he had a great respect for me and how I performed.  The trouble was that there was virtually no money in the club, and when I got there, I found I was playing for next to nothing.

“I consequently only stayed for a season because it was such a horrible journey to have to make once, let alone on a regular basis.  Not only that, though, being now fully involved in the pub trade was making more and more demands on my time.

“Far from supplementing my income, rugby league was now losing me money because I could earn so much more working.  The pub I was at was a regular for a lot of rugby fans, mainly of Warrington, Widnes, and Saints, but they still wanted to come in and chat with me about rugby league.  Suddenly everyone was wanting to come in for a chat.”

A return to Salford, however, was an opportunity, when it came, he was not going to turn down,

“I thought it would be just like it always had been in my previous time there, but it was not, as I found out once I walked into the dressing room.  It just wasn’t the same, which was really sad, but those earlier good years I had had there by far outweigh everything else I did afterwards.

“I loved the way Salford played and being a part of that, and whenever anyone since then ever asks me which teams I have played for I just reply, ‘Salford’.

“My memories of playing for Salford are ones of absolute joy, and the club owes me nothing.  Indeed, it was a privilege to play for such a highly professional outfit and alongside such talented players, and we all complemented each other so well within the team.

“Certainly, we should have won more trophies than we actually did, and I take some responsibility for that, because there were games when I wasn’t up to my own standard, but that in no way eclipses that wonderful time that we all had together.  There can be very few professional sportsmen who have gained such great pleasure from their career as I did in playing for Salford.”

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To read part one click HERE

To read part two click HERE

To read part three click HERE

To read part four click HERE

 

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