Terry Clawson: Rugby league hard man who won the 1972 World Cup

He enjoyed the reputation of being hard to handle, and he liked to get his retaliation in first

Terry Clawson played professional rugby league with great distinction in four different decades, from the 1950s to the start of the 1980s. He also played for eight different English clubs, some of them more than once, but his finest hour undoubtedly came while representing Great Britain in the 1972 World Cup.

Clawson’s was a style of player now virtually extinct in the modern game. Not only was he a skilful ball-handling prop forward or second-rower, but also an accomplished kicker, both for goal and in general play, and an unapologetic rough-house. It was a range of talents that made him an essential component in the side that won the World Cup and which, lest we forget in this World Cup year, was the last British team to do so.

Terry Clawson was a young prodigy in the tough world of ’50s forward play. He was born in Normanton and largely brought up in Castleford, but it was Featherstone Rovers who won the race to sign him. In fact his early experience of Cas when they tried to recruit him made his home-town club one of the few in Yorkshire he was never interested in playing for.

He made his debut at the age of 17 and was a regular in the first team from then on. In 1959, when he was still a teenager, he played in the team that won the Yorkshire Cup, Featherstone’s first peacetime trophy, and was also in their side that beat the touring Australians.

That Yorkshire Cup should have been the first of many trophies, but it never quite worked out that way. Clawson, for all his clever timing on the pitch, had the unhappy knack of being at the right club at the wrong time. His travels were also complicated by his “day job” as a fitter at power stations. He called his autobiography – written out in longhand, without as much as a finger raised by a ghost-writer – All the Wrong Moves. His reputation for being hard to handle contributed to that and he was not one to stick around if a team did not want to do things his way.

That way often consisted of getting his retaliation in first. Not only did you need eyes in the back of your head, he wrote: “As Aristotle once remarked, you need eyes up your arse when you play at Oldham.”

His peripatetic career was almost over before it had properly started, however, when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which, he was told, could have killed him. He spent months in a sanatorium and such was his determination to get back into the game that he returned better than ever.

The first of his many transfers was to the then recently reformed Bradford Northern, with whom he won the Yorkshire Cup in 1965. From there it was to Hull Kingston Rovers and Leeds. While at Headingley he played in the Challenge Cup final for the only time, blaming himself for missing the goals that could have given Leeds victory over St Helens in 1972. A week later, they won the Championship final against the same opponents. 

Although firmly into the veteran category by this stage, Clawson was an obvious candidate for that year’s World Cup. Not to the player himself, however, who had heard and believed the rumour on the circuit that he would not be picked, however well he had been playing, so much trouble had he caused on and off the field when winning his two caps against France two years earlier.

When Mick Harrison withdrew through injury, though, Clawson was called up as a late replacement. It proved an inspired choice. He played a big part in the 27-21 win over Australia in Perpignan, landing six goals and leading the battle up front. He kicked two goals and had another strong game as France were defeated 13-4 in Grenoble.

He was rested for the easy win over New Zealand but automatically recalled for the final against Australia in Lyon. Thanks to the arcane rules of the tournament, Great Britain only needed a draw to win the trophy, and that was what they got, Clawson converting tries by Clive Sullivan and Mike Stephenson. He also played in the Ashes series in England in 1973 and on the tour to Australia and New Zealand the following year.

That was the end of his international career, but not by any means of his activity at club level. He had moved to Oldham – his one Lancashire club – in 1973 and from there to York, Bradford (again), back to Featherstone for a second stint, Wakefield, Huddersfield and, finally, Hull. He was over 40 when he made his last appearance for them. He also spent three summers playing – later player-coaching – at South Newcastle in Australia, where he was inducted in 2000 into their Team of the Century.

Terry Clawson, rugby league footballer and coach: born Normanton, West Yorkshire 9 April 1940; married Jean (two sons); died Pontefract, West Yorkshire 2 September 2013.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform