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Title: ... (p64) Memories of Reg Gasnier and Station Road Ground Swinton - Keith Smith

Memories from Keith Smith,Pendlebury, Lancashire UK

Re your AUSTRALIA -V- GREAT BRITAIN 1967, 3rd Test - Staton Road Ground Swinton ("now corrected thanks Keith")

"Staton Road" is wrong, it should say Station Road. Station Road was the home ground of my local club Swinton from 1929-1992. I'm proud to say that I spent my youth on the terraces at Station Road during the heady days of the 1960s when Swinton ('the Lions') were one of the strongest sides in British RL (RL Champions 1962-63 and 1963-64). Station Road was one of the biggest RL stadiums in the UK alongside Central Park, Wigan, Odsal, Bradford and Headingley, Leeds. Its highest attendance was a Challenge Cup semi-final in 1951 when 44,621 saw Warrington play Wigan. My first Test match at Station Road was the 1st Test GB v AUS in October 1959 when the home side suffered a 14-22 defeat to the visitors, Reg Gasnier putting on a dazzling display of classic centre play in what I believe was his Test debut. Very sadly the once majestic stadium no longer exists having been sold in 1992 for housing development. The Lions are still up and running but no longer in the top level of the game and are still awaiting their dream of returning home to a new stadium even though it will be only a shadow of the once grand Station Road (scene of the 1963 ‘Swinton massacre’ GB 12 - AUS 50).

I love anything which has a retro slant on the sport of rugby league as I believe the game today lacks the natural spontaneity it once had and the real 'football' it displayed. Today's version might be faster, but at what price? Largely gone are the skills of sidestepping backs who could destroy opposing defences with magical efficiency. Attacking now is all about regimented 'robotic' rugby by players who spend too much time lifting weights in the gym to build up their upper bodies. Few players today can show the true 'footballing' skills of a Billy Boston, Alex Murphy, Ken Gowers or Brian Bevan (yes, I saw him play). Here in Britain we have a wonderful 'retro' quarterly magazine call the 'Rugby League Journal'. It prides itself as being 'For fans who don't want to forget'.
Thank you.
Appears in the following pages ....P64_Reg GASNIER
Date of posting ... 25-Aug-2015
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