Number Eleven – Second Row Forward.
Throughout this series I have always picked out whoever wore the shirt in our 1973 Championship Final winning team. That day in Bradford saw a true & proper legend of the game wear the jersey for Dewsbury, Jeff Grayshon MBE.
His professional career began at Crown Flatt and he made 237 appearances for Dewsbury between 1970 & 1978 scoring 31 tries plus 1 goal & 2 drop goals, curiously he never kicked a goal of any sort for any of his subsequent clubs & representative teams! It is easily forgotten that during his time with us that he had a brief spell in Australia with Cronulla Sharks, back then seasons in the respective hemispheres did not coincide.
Jeff played for England during his time at Dewsbury. Like many of our 1973 Championship final winning team he also played for Dewsbury in the 1972 Yorkshire Cup Final & the 1975 BBC 2 Floodlit Trophy Final. He left Dewsbury in 1979 & enjoyed a successful 6 years with Bradford Northern.
He wore the No 11 shirt when Bradford beat Widnes in the 1980 John Player Trophy Final at Headingley. Jeff also played for Northern in three Yorkshire Cup Finals but the highlight of his time with Bradford was surely their back to back Championship titles in 1980 & 1981.
That mighty Bradford team was coached by the iconic Peter Fox & also included another Dewsbury Legend Nigel Stephenson. Jeff continued to be selected for international & county action while at Odsal & ultimately made 13 appearances for Great Britain plus 11 for England with a further 3 appearances in tour games for GB.
He played 14 times for Yorkshire. His next port of call was Headingley & a two years spell in the blue & amber of Leeds. The move was no doubt instigated by the simultaneous move of Peter Fox from Odsal to Headingley. It has to be said that particular era was not good in LS6 & Jeff actually returned to Bradford in 1987.
1988 saw Jeff once again team up with coach Peter Fox, this time in the navy & white of Featherstone Rovers. Exactly 100 appearances followed for the Post Office Road outfit. One of those games was the 1989 Yorkshire Cup Final at Headingley where ironically Rovers were beaten by Bradford.
In 1991 Jeff returned to the picturesque Heavy Woollen valleys where he stayed until 1996. He was coach at Mount Pleasant for the final two years of that spell.
It is incredible that Jeff played until the age of 45, he played through 3 decades including actually playing against his son Paul!
Playing with or against your offspring often happens in local cricket but for that to happen in professional Rugby League is mind blowing!!
So for Jeff Grayshon the word legend is apt. He was awarded the MBE & former Dewsbury coach Maurice Bamford wrote his biography entitled ‘The Warrior’.
I always like to mention the guy who wore the shirt in the last ever game at Crown Flatt, Paul Hughes holds that particular honour. I recall Paul as a rangy second rower who was always dependable, a native of Featherstone who also had a spell with his hometown Rovers.
On to a cult hero from our glorious trophy laden era under the coaching of Neil Kelly, Sean Richardson. Despite being a native of St Helens he played most of his professional career in Yorkshire. His spell at the Tetleys Stadium was well timed as we were the dominant force outside Super league.
One recollection I have of Sean is after we had beaten Leigh Centurions in the 2000 Trans Pennine Cup Final, on a rain soaked night at the Tetleys Stadium he aqua planed into a puddle in front of the North Stand as his own personal celebration!
A cult hero from recent times was Daniel Igbinedion. A standout player who enlivened many a game. Dan started his professional career with Oxford before being recruited by Castleford Tigers. Their coach Daryl Powell clearly seeing potential in the man from the south! Daniel initially came to the Tetleys Stadium on loan before signing for the Rams on a permanent deal in 2018. He played for Featherstone & Sheffield in between his loan ending & his permanent signing. He is now one of the ex Rams contingent over the pennines at Oldham.
I have got to mention Billy Kershaw, another guy who wore the shirt around the year 2000. He has always had a connection with the Oulton Raiders club in the National Conference League & after leaving the pro game was on their coaching staff.
A local lad who has given great service on both sides of the valley is Alex Bretherton, always a wholehearted player who despite playing in the forwards applied brain over brawn!
Back to the fantastic days when Jack Addy was weaving his inspiration as coach, Jack persuaded local lad Dave Busfield to come to Crown Flatt. The irony being that despite being an Earlsheaton lad he had spent the previous ten years playing for Featherstone, Halifax, Wakefield & Hull.
I like to throw in a name that none of us will know too much about, George Curran. George played for Dewsbury as a world war two guest player in 1944. He was a Great Britain & England international. He played for Dewsbury against Wigan in the 1944 Championship final.
That war time final was a two legged affair- Wigan won the first leg 13 – 9 at Central Park before travelling to Crown Flatt for the second leg & triumphing 12-5.
Going back even further to the 1920s we find Frank Gallagher. Clearly an influential player who represented Great Britain, England & Yorkshire. At club level he played for Dewsbury, Batley & Leeds.
One guy who came to the Tetleys Stadium with good pedigree but never really lived up to expectations was Terie Glassie. He was a Cook Islander who had previously played for South Sydney Rabbitohs. He came to Dewsbury in 2008 from Castleford Tigers. Later he played for Avatiu Eels in the Cook Islands at the age of 39.
So on to recent times when guys like Lucas Walshaw have filled the 11 shirt, another player of recent vintage was Jason Muranka who actually played against us for Keighley Cougars in a pre-season friendly this year.
I saw one of his old playing shirts on the bargain rail in our club shop on my last visit but Wayne Godwin is nearer to my size so I opted for his!
So who is the 2020 incumbent of the shirt, it is Jason Walton.
I really hope we get to see plenty of Jason in Red, Amber & Black next season because I have seen how hard & powerful he runs when I have seen him in action for other clubs.
Not a player you would relish tackling!