Dave Chisnall: Powerful, pacey Warrington prop


Dave Chisnall was a member of a notable rugby league family and one of the very few players to miss a Wembley final through suspension.

There was almost an unwritten rule that players were not deprived of a Challenge Cup appearance by a ban, but in 1971, Leigh, at the stadium for the first time, were forced to manage without Chisnall, who was serving a four-match sentence. He was to more than make up for it later in his career, but at the time it felt like a cruel and unusual punishment.

To add poignancy, his elder brother Les did play as a substitute on what remains Leigh's only trip to the stadium, whilst the best-known member of the clan, Eric Chisnall, was a winner there with St Helens. A fourth brother, John, was a successful boxer.

Chisnall played his early rugby for Parr Labour Club in his native St Helens, before signing professional for Leigh at the age of 17 and becoming part of the club's resurgence under their player-coach Alex Murphy. He played in their Lancashire Cup sides in 1969 and 1970, getting sent off in the second of those finals, before missing the memorable Wembley victory over Leeds.

When Murphy decamped to Warrington shortly after that triumph, Chisnall was the first player he signed, for a then club record fee of £8000. It was in his two spells at Warrington that he was at his best. He played for England and Great Britain and appeared almost 200 times for the club, scoring a creditable total, for a prop forward, of 29 tries.

But Chisnall, even in his own era, was a long way from being a conventional prop forward. He was only 5ft 9in tall, and played at well over 16 stone – and resembled nothing as much as a burly teddy-boy; but he had an alarming burst of pace for a big man.

He was also unafraid of trying something different. He had audacious ball-handling skills, a dummy which was invariably described as "outrageous" and a sidestep of which many a three-quarter would have been proud. All these qualities came together against Bradford in 1982 for a try which is recalled in the book 100 Warrington Greats.

"Chisnall scored an outrageous try when he twice sold dummies to would-be tacklers on the half-way line before charging clear to touch down at the Railway End."

He won over a dozen medals with The Wire, including captaining the club in the defeat by Widnes at Wembley in 1975, and was always welcomed warmly by the crowd at Wilderspool when he returned there with other clubs. Chisnall played with a smile on his face, was rarely stuck for a word and knew how to raise a laugh in the changing room or in the middle of a tough training session. "Cheeky" and "charismatic" are two of the other adjectives regularly used about him.

Late in 1975, however, he fell out with Murphy and was sold to Swinton for £5000. A nomadic period followed, including a second stint at Leigh, one with his home-town club, St Helens, and one at Barrow, before returning to Wilderspool in 1981.

After three more successful seasons there, he was off on his travels again, winding up his career at Keighley and Mansfield. After that, he coached the reserve sides at St Helens and Leigh, but his only job at first-team level was with lowly Runcorn.

He was an inductee into the Warrington Hall of Fame and, until late in his battle with cancer and Alzheimer's disease, an active member of their Past Players' Association.

Dave Hadfield

David Chisnall, rugby league player: born St Helens 10 April 1948; married Carol (two sons, two daughters); died St Helens 11 January 2013.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary Teaching Jobs Available NOW-Southport

£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...

KS2 Teacher

£80 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Randstad education are working...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
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

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London