Pictures Eddie Whitham
AS we approach the anniversary of Brian Bevan’s last ever game for Warrington Rugby League Club, local photographer Eddie Whitham takes a trip down memory lane, including the an iconic picture of the late great Bev scoring his last try for the Wire!
It was Easter 1962 a day Eddie, who is still snapping his Rugby League heroes 58 years on, will never forget. Eddie recalls: “23 April 1962 is one etched on the mind of many older fans of the Wire…this was the day that the GREATEST RUGBY LEAGUE WINGER EVER played his last game for the Wire.
“For 16 seasons Brian Bevan had graced the rugby league world with his speed and try scoring ability. Bev joined the Wire after being rejected by Leeds (probably the biggest mistake any club ever made) and played his first game in the 1945 – 46 season. He went to make 630 appearances for the Wire and scored 740 tries. A FEAT THAT WILL NEVER BE BEATEN.
“I was down to cover the game which to me was a great one to photograph, his last game for the Wire. At the time I was using a twin lens Roliecord VA which was supposed to take 12 photographs on a 120 roll of film but had developed a fault and when it reached 10 exposures, if I was not careful it would wind on the end of the film. Bev was some way down field when I looked at the film counter and it was registering 9… should I change the film or not but Bev made my mind up for me he got the ball and began to race for the line (he usually went for the corner and knowing this I had positioned myself where I could cover that area) and I waited and he went over in the corner just in the right spot for me. The crowd erupted and I missed the celebrations because in my excitement I had wound the film to the end but that did not matter I had the shot I wanted! The first time I ever saw the great man play was in 1947 when I went to a game at Wilderspool I think it was against Whitehaven but I am not sure. I went with my dad and uncle Jim who was a long time Wire supporter and when we reacched the level crossing on Wilderspool Causeway it was closed to let a train go through. That’s Bev in front of us ” said uncle Jim…there was man in a rain coat with a trilby hat and a brown paper parcel under his arm (I was later told that the parcel was his Jock strap) who looked to me old and certainly not like I thought a rugby should look like.
“We got onto the ground and the players came out to the music of ‘The Entry of the Gladiators’… what number is Bevan I asked…number 2 said my dad….number 2..but the player with the number 2 on his jersey was a bald headed man with big bandages on his knees and no teeth and was stooped as if he was short of breath – so this was my uncle Jim’s great winger ?????? Brian Bevan. The game was about 10 minutes old when Bev got the ball the whole stadium broke into one crescendo of deafening sound as Bev raced to corner to score…..and his greatest fan was born….ME and there will never be another BEV. Years later when I was working for Warrington Guardian I had to go Wilderspool to take some photographs for the first time and was to meet up with kit man Jack Hamblett (one the nicest people you could ever meet). Come on son would like a cup of tea” said Jack. I got my tea and Jack said let me introduce to Brian… Brian this is Eddie …Eddie this is Brian…it was Bev the great man himself and I was shaking hands with him..”hello” he said but his words took me back ” have you got a fag”. I met him on many occasions and was a quiet man who did not say very much. He did his talking on the field!”
Bevan’s last game for the Wire was played on Easter Monday 23 April 1962 v Leigh and winning 29 – 17. He scored a total of 796 tries during career. He also scored for Blackpool Borough and Other Nationalities various representative games. He was member of the Wire team that beat Halifax in a replay of the Challenge cup final in 1954 played at Odsal Stadium Bradford in front of a record 102575 and many more who could not be counted!
Full playing record:
|1952||British Empire XIII||1||1||0||0||3|
|1954||Rugby League XIII||1||2||0||0||6|