Alan Davies: Rugby league centre who won 20 Test caps

Alan Davies would be many people's choice as the finest player of rugby league for Oldham, as well as one of Great Britain's best-ever centres. In an era when there was plenty of competition in the position, Davies won 20 Test caps, touring Australia in 1958 and playing in the World Cups of 1957 and 1960.

He joined Oldham from the Leigh amateur club Dootsons in July 1950 and made his debut against Wakefield Trinity two months later. It was the first of 391 appearances that brought him a club record 174 tries.

Never lacking confidence in his ability, Davies was jokingly nicknamed "Waggy" by his team-mates, after Harold Wagstaff, arguably the best centre the game had ever produced.

"He was an absolutely brilliant centre," says Roger Halstead, who covered the club for the Oldham Evening Chronicle for almost 50 years. "He had everything; strength, pace, an eye for an opening and a bit of a mean streak. Wingers outside him could hardly go wrong."

Davies shared in all of Oldham's successes of the 1950s, appearing in two Championship finals and four Lancashire Cup finals. The Roughyeds, as they are still known, won the former in 1957 and the latter three years running from 1956.

In 1955, Davies captained the Oldham side that lost 7-3 to Warrington in the Championship final at Maine Road. The high-water mark for the formidable and skilful Oldham team of the era was two years later, when they finished top of the league and beat Hull 15-14 at Odsal to take the trophy. It was arguably the club's best-ever side, with players like Bernard Ganley, John Etty and Derek Turner, but Davies was one of its brightest stars.

The great omission, for both player and club, was a Challenge Cup final at Wembley, but he put that right after his transfer to Wigan in 1961. Two years after his move, he was a member of the Wigan team that made it to the big occasion, although they lost 23-10 to Wakefield Trinity.

Davies made a further 132 appearances for Wigan, scoring 52 tries, making him a significant figure in the history of two clubs. It is at Oldham that he is really revered, however, not least because his 20 Tests make him that club's most capped player.

He first played for England in 1953 and was considered unlucky not to be selected for a 1954 tour, but his Great Britain career began with two caps against the visiting New Zealanders the following year.

In 1956, he played in all three Tests against the touring Kangaroos. He scored a try in the first Test victory at Wigan and, unusually for him, two goals in the series decider at Swinton, which Great Britain won by a convincing 19-0 to regain the Ashes.

In 1957, he made his first trip to Australia for the World Cup, playing against France and Australia in the tournament. The following year he was back, playing in the first and third Tests of the series as the Ashes were won. In 1960, he appeared in the World Cup again, playing in all the matches as Great Britain won the round-robin tournament without the need for a final and scoring three tries in the process. His Great Britain career ended against France that same year.

Davies also played 17 times for Lancashire, another Oldham club record, and was one of the inaugural inductees in the club's Hall of Fame in 1995.

After his retirement in 1964, Davies devoted an increasing amount of time to the Jehovah's Witnesses. He was a preacher and an elder of the Kingdom Hall in Darwen and helped to organise the building of other centres throughout the country.

Alan Davies, rugby league player: born Leigh, Lancashire 4 February 1933; married (one son, three daughters); died Blackburn Lancashire 2 February 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'