Obituary: Colin Dixon

Colin Dixon, rugby player: born Cardiff 3 December 1943; player, Halifax 1961- 68, Salford 1968-80, Hull KR 1980-81; capped 15 times for Wales 1968-81, 14 times for Great Britain 1968-74; coach, Salford 1977-78, Halifax 1982-84, Keighley 1986-89; married (one son, one daughter); died Halifax 21 June 1993.

COLIN DIXON was one of the best of the rugby players from South Wales who found a congenial home in rugby league. He went to the same school in Tiger Bay as Billy Boston and Johnny Freeman; now he has died before his time, still active and still deeply involved in his adopted game.

Like Boston, Dixon switched from rugby union to rugby league early in his career, at the age of 17, and partly because of failing to win a Welsh Youth cap. The offer of pounds 250, plus pounds 250 for each of the next three seasons, from Halifax also had something to do with it, but Dixon never regretted his decision to 'go North' and never moved back to Wales.

He was originally signed in 1961 as a scrum-half, but Halifax soon converted him into a centre, playing inside Freeman and helping him to many of his tries. As he continued to become more and more physically powerful, however, Halifax spotted his potential as a fearsome running second-row forward and it was there that he played the bulk of his 20-year rugby league career.

In 1968, and amid heated controversy in Halifax, he was sold to the ambitious Salford club for a then world-record fee of pounds 12,000, plus a player valued at pounds 3,000 in part exchange. He thrived in an expensive and expansive side that included his fellow Welshmen David Watkins and Maurice Richards and was a key figure in the teams that won the Championship in 1974 and 1976.

'He was an awesome sight when he used to come running through with his knees pumping,' says his coach in that side, Les Bettinson. 'You couldn't say it about every forward of that era, but Colin would have been just as good in the game today; he was so athletic.'

Dixon had one season with Hull Kingston Rovers before retiring as a player in 1981. Only three players have appeared in more professional rugby league games than his 738. On the international scene as well Dixon was a leading figure. Apart from playing 15 times for Wales, he won 14 caps for Great Britain, playing in the World Cup-winning squad in 1972 and touring Australasia in 1974.

He had already had a brief taste of coaching during his playing days, combining the two jobs at Salford in 1977, before deciding that it was not for him. In 1982, he was appointed coach at his old club, Halifax, a position he held for two years, until he once more left his old club in dramatic circumstances.

Halifax had signed 10 Australian players and decided they needed an Australian coach - Chris Anderson - to bring the best out of them. Dixon was hurt and others were bitter and angry on his behalf, but, after a period as coach and later director at Keighley, he returned to Halifax for a third time.

Dixon went back to Thrum Hall to coach the teenage players in the Academy team and was working with them on Saturday morning before suffering a stroke - whilst playing dominoes, of all games - later in the day. His death deprives the game of one of its best-liked characters; in the best tradition of the code, he was, as Bettinson says: 'Always friendly, easy-going and gregarious off the field, but absolutely ferocious on it.'

His death does not end the Dixon sporting dynasty, however. His family in Tiger Bay were all athletes; his son, Paul, has played in the reserve teams at both Halifax and Wakefield Trinity, and his daughter, Michelle, who is married to the West Ham footballer Peter Butler, had just introduced him to his first grandchild.

Earlier this month, Dixon was one of 24 players inducted into the Halifax Hall of Fame. It was fitting for a man whose departures had already shocked the club and the town twice.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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 People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power