Trevor Allan

Hero of Leigh rugby league

Trevor Allan, rugby player: born Bathurst, New South Wales 26 September 1926; married (one son, one daughter); died Sydney 27 January 2007.

Trevor Allan was a centre of the highest calibre in both codes of rugby, who became a hero on both sides of the world. Playing rugby union for Gordon, on Sydney's North Shore, he was selected to tour Great Britain in 1947-48 and became the second-youngest man to captain the Wallabies, after the 20-year-old Jimmy Flynn in 1914.

In all, Allan played 15 union Tests, including a then record 10 in a row, so it was a shock when he signed in 1950 for a reputed £5,000 to play rugby league for Leigh. He arrived in the Lancashire town with his wife, Judith, in the middle of a snowstorm - something neither of them had seen before.

Rugby league was in the middle of one of its international transfer bans, but that restriction did not apply to union players and the interest in Allan was so intense that 5,000 supporters paid to see him make his début in the reserve side on a Saturday morning. He made his first-team début in January 1951, scoring 12 tries in 19 games in his first part-season, and was an automatic selection for the rest of his stay.

That stay was relatively brief - his final games for the club were at the start of the 1953-54 season - but he caught the imagination of his new home-town in a remarkable way.

Part of it was due to his appearance. He was the first back who anyone could remember playing in a scrum-cap and that made his ferocious tackling all the more obvious and eye-catching, especially from a relatively lightweight player. When he lost his head-gear during his stint with Leigh, he had to have a new model made by a local cobbler; it was as much his trademark as his superb defence.

He was also a regular try-scorer, with 52 in his 97 games for Leigh, the most important of them a long-range effort in the Lancashire Cup final victory over St Helens in 1952.

He was such an iconic figure in the town that more than one baby born around that time was given the forenames Trevor Allan in tribute to him. The compliment was reciprocated when the Allans called their daughter Leigh.

Allan scored 30 tries for the club in the 1952-53 season, as well as representing the star-studded Other Nationalities team. At the start of the following season, however, he suffered a serious ankle injury and made the decision to go home to Australia.

Two years later, he was persuaded to come out of retirement to play for North Sydney, the club he also coached in 1957 and 1958. He played a total of 15 matches for Norths.

He achieved fame in a different way, with a long career as a highly-respected radio commentator. There was one town in the North of England, however, where many still insisted that he was the best player they ever saw.

Dave Hadfield