Obituary: Roy Powell

A "WHO'S WHO" of rugby league players, published when he was in his prime in 1991, described Roy Powell as a "workaholic runner and tackler with under-estimated ball-playing skills". They could have gone on to say that he was one of the best-liked players of his generation; proof that the old sporting cliche, the gentle giant, really could survive and thrive even in so unforgiving a game.

Powell joined Leeds in 1983, from the St John Fisher junior club in his native Dewsbury, and within a couple of seasons was a regular member of their pack. From the start, his trademarks were his work-rate and his tackling - hard, low and scrupulously fair. If he had a failing, it was that he never seemed particularly to enjoy hurting opponents; he did so, of course, but it was not the object of the exercise. A succession of coaches tried to put a little more "devil" into him, but had to admit, like Peter Fox, who relied on him for Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire, that it just wasn't in his nature.

He prospered despite that, flowering into an impressive second-row forward in a Leeds team that was almost, but not quite, good enough to win things. With Paul Medley and David Heron, he made up a back row that was a good balance of running, creativity and tackling. Powell was the tackler and there were few better. He was first capped for Great Britain, as a substitute against France, by Maurice Bamford in 1985, but it was under the coaching of Malcolm Reilly that he became a fixture in the Test team.

On the 1988 tour of Australia, he was one of the few British forwards to command respect and he shared in the euphoria of beating the Aussies for the first time in 10 years, when Great Britain defied all expectations to win 26-12 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

In 1990, he was an immensely popular member of the British party that first made a full-scale tour of Papua New Guinea. As a big, black player, Powell was an object of fascination to the local fans, who mobbed him wherever he went. Being regarded as almost an honorary fellow countryman made it a demanding few weeks, but he coped with the attention with his customary cheerfulness. "Physically, he was a Goliath," said Reilly. "I told him to walk about stripped to the waist to intimidate them, but they loved him."

Powell also figured on the New Zealand leg of that tour, as well as the home series against Australia - including the victory at Wembley - later that same year. He made his final Test appearance, again as a substitute, against France in 1991.

A few months later, Peter Fox signed him for Bradford Northern for pounds 80,000, his departure from Leeds causing a storm of protest from their supporters. Fox knew what he would get from Powell and his efforts helped them into the final of the Regal Trophy the following season.

For the third time in that competition, Powell was on the losing side; indeed, the Yorkshire Cup with Leeds in 1988-89 remained his only domestic honour until earlier this year. That was when, following a stint with Featherstone, he helped Batley - without a trophy for over 40 years - to win the inaugural Trans-Pennine Cup. He caused great concern in the final against Oldham when he was unconscious for 20 minutes.

This winter, Powell was on the move again, following his great friend Deryck Fox, with whom he played at St John Fisher, Bradford, Featherstone and Batley, as well as for Great Britain, to Rochdale, where, at the age of 33, he was going to help with the coaching as well as play.

It was whilst walking across a field to start a training session that he collapsed and died, a piece of news that will have ruined Christmases wherever anyone knew Roy Powell, as a player or as a person.

Dave Hadfield

Roy Colin Powell, rugby league player: born Dewsbury, West Yorkshire 30 April 1965; married (one son, one daughter); died Rochdale 27 December 1998.

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album