Jim Lewthwaite

Rugby league record-breaker


James Lewthwaite, rugby league player: born Cleator Moor, Cumberland 10 November 1920; married (one son, one daughter); died Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria 23 December 2006.

The rugby league player Jim Lewthwaite was a record-breaking try-scorer for Barrow who played in all three of their Wembley finals in the 1950s and was one of only three survivors of the most famous of all Great Britain tours to Australia.

Lewthwaite was a great winger who had the misfortune to play in an era when there was an embarrassment of players who justified that description. Thus it was that he never won a full Great Britain cap, despite finishing as leading scorer with 25 tries in 15 matches on the 1946 tour, for which the party travelled to Australia on the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable.

That included seven tries in a 94-0 victory in a match at Mackay, north Queensland, a Great Britain record equalled by two other players on subsequent tours. Despite that, Lewthwaite could not force his way into the Test team, with various combinations of Eric Batten, Arthur Bassett and Albert Johnson being preferred.

He won just one cap for England, scoring a try in the 31-12 defeat by Other Nationalities at Huddersfield in 1952, but it was a different story for club and county. He was capped 20 times by Cumberland between 1945 and 1956 and was a fixture on the wing for Barrow for even longer.

Lewthwaite was a late developer in rugby league. As a young man working as a plumber in the Barrow shipyards, he concentrated on football and was a prolific goal-scorer for a local amateur team named Crystal Palace. In 1943, he returned to the game he had played in his youth on the West Cumberland coast, signed for the then star-studded Barrow club and made an immediate impact.

As a rangy six-footer, Lewthwaite quickly proved to be a difficult winger to stop, as shown by his club record 352 tries over the next 14 years, but he was also regarded as ultra-reliable in defence, as well as a consummate sportsman, often referred to as "Gentleman Jim". Unlike many wingers, he became more effective as time went on. His club record of 50 tries in the 1956-57 season - his last as a player - was set after his 36th birthday.

His career highlights were undoubtedly Barrow's three Challenge Cup final appearances in a six-year purple patch, starting with the 10-0 defeat by Wigan in 1951. In 1955, he was again on the right wing for the proudest day in Barrow's history - the 21-12 victory over Workington Town to claim the trophy for the first time. Two years later, Leeds denied him the perfect finale to his career by beating Barrow 9-7.

It was only after the return home from that match that Lewthwaite told the crowds gathered under the balcony of Barrow Town Hall that it had been his last and that he was retiring. It was reported that there were anguished cries of "No, no" from supporters who hoped in vain that he might be persuaded to carry on. Depending on the method of counting, that Wembley appearance was his 499th or 500th for the club. Either way, it is another record that survives to this day.

After his retirement as a player, Lewthwaite worked as an inspector for the Furness Water Board.

Dave Hadfield

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence