TRIBUTE TO TOM DANBY

Salford Red Devils are saddened to learn of the passing of their former international winger, Tom Danby, on the 26th December 2022.

A native of Durham, Tom had risen to become a rugby union international, whilst playing for Harlequins, in January 1949, when he represented England against Wales, at Cardiff Arms Park.  Although England lost 9-3, he had so impressed that he was recruited by Salford and signed for them six months later, in June of that year.  He then made his debut against Liverpool Stanley, on 24th August, at The Willows.

He was an immediate success in rugby league and in the following March was selected for the England team to face Wales, at Central Park, Wigan, and then followed this up with his being included in the 1950 Great Britain touring squad to Australia and New Zealand, during which he notched up a remarkable total of 34 tries in 18 matches.  He, consequently, was then selected to play in the second test, at Brisbane, which he celebrated by scoring an exceptional, individual, opening try, which contributed to his continued presence in the third and final test, in Sydney, and then in the second of two test matches against New Zealand, in Aukland.

On his return home, he played for the Great Britain Touring Side against ‘The Rest’, in the Lord Derby Memorial Match, at Wigan, in October 1950.  Although this was to be his final game for Great Britain, he, nevertheless, went on to represent England twice in late 1950, against Wales in Abertillery, and France at Headingley, LeedsWor.

In the 1951/2 season, he was Salford’s top try scorer, with a total of 17, and later that year played for them against the New Zealand touring side.  In his five years with the club he made 174 appearances, scoring 61 tries and kicking 2 goals, for a total of 187 points.

In 1954, he requested to be placed on the transfer list, before making his final appearance in a red jersey, at Derwent Park, Workington, on 3rd April.  An anticipated move to Workington Town sadly fell through, and he retired from the sport to move south and take up a teaching post in Sussex.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family at this sad time.

Acknowledgement: Graham Morris, Club Historian and Author of ‘100 Greats Salford Rugby League Club’

RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG – KEN GILL (PT4)

Part 4 – HIS INTERNATIONAL PLAYING CAREER

With all the accolades of praise, which came his way, both from fans, fellow players, and the sporting media, it was of no great surprise to anyone that, in 1974, Ken Gill was selected to play for Gt Britain in two test matches against France.

“When I got the call to inform me I had been selected for the international team I was just so made up, and everybody around me was just as delighted for me.  The first match was away in Grenoble, where we won, 24-5, and the return game was at Central Park, Wigan, which we also won, 29-0.

“St Helens centre, John Walsh, had been made captain, but just before we went out onto the field, at Wigan, he took off his captain’s armband and gave it to me, with the instruction for me to take over the captaincy, which was quite a shock so close to the kick off, but an incredibly gallant gesture.”

March 1975 saw the start of the World Cup, with fixtures spread throughout the calendar year, thereby overlapping two seasons, and lasting until mid-November.  Instead of a final, the winners were determined on a league basis, and for this competition Ken was a part of the England squad which was in operation rather than the full GB side.

Countries played one another on a home and away basis, and so he was required for a close season trip to Sydney to face Australia.

“When we got there, I found myself in competition with Roger Milward for the stand-off half position, but, at the outset it was he who was being selected, so, after our being beaten in the first Test Match I went to the coach, Reg Parker, to find out why I wasn’t being selected.  The outcome was that Roger was moved to the wing and I took over at half back, and we promptly won the second one, 16-11.

Indeed, it was Kenny who scored the winning try going over between the posts with a set move direct from a scrum, fifteen metres out from the Australian line, involving scrum half, Stevie Nash, and this will have helped secure his continued selection for the third test, and beyond.  Then, when they moved on to New Zealand, he hit the headlines again by crossing for a hat-trick of tries.

“I went on to return again in 1977, but playing at such a high level as test rugby the physicality was so great in general, and I got singled out for extra special attention in this direction, so much so that I finished possibly earlier than I otherwise would have done.”

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