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
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower