Rugby League: Waddell leads the border raiders

Dave Hadfield meets the veteran GB forward taking up a new challenge

WHEN HUGH Waddell leads the Scottish Border Eagles on to the field in their Silk Cut Challenge Cup tie against Wath Brow Hornets today, he will carry with him more experience of the game than any international player still turning out. Waddell, now 40, played for England almost 15 years ago. In 1988, already glorying in the nickname "Ten Bellies", he was a member of the Great Britain side that broke a 10-year drought by beating Australia in Sydney.

His professional career, that began when, on holiday from his home in Stafford, he walked into Blackpool Borough and asked for a trial and continued at Oldham, Leeds and Sheffield, ended last season when he told his coach at Barrow that he had got his substitutions all wrong. "I was going for Jeff Grayshon's record," he said, citing the ultra-veteran who played until he was 46. "But I ran out of clubs."

Professional clubs, perhaps. But, even in his fifth decade, Waddell still lives by the motto "Have boots, will travel". For him, it is a fairly short raid over the border from his home in Carlisle to help out in the land of his birth. Under his guidance, the Border Eagles emerged as the first Scottish Champions this summer - and today will become the first Scottish club to play in the Challenge Cup. It is a considerable achievement, given that the side is drawn from the whole of southern Scotland, never train together and have little grounding in rugby league. "But I think it's a game more suited to Scottish people than rugby union," Waddell said. "A lot of Scots lads are fit and athletic; they're able to tackle and they love running the ball. Put those ingredients together and you've got a game of rugby league."

Well, you have if there is someone there to pull it all together; Waddell has done just that. "He makes a dramatic difference to us," said the club's founder, Paul Scanlon-Wells. "He might be 40, but he would still be capable of doing it in the professional game." Whether that will be enough at the Hillhead Sports Club in Glasgow today against the champions of Cumbria, still a hot-bed of the game at amateur level, is another matter. "We don't hold out any great expectations," Waddell said. "But we won't be shown up. We've got our defence sorted out, which hasn't always been considered my forte. We've got a lot of heart and we'll give them a run for their money."

Waddell does not train these days, keeping his fitness up by playing his 80 minutes with the Eagles, plus a bit of rugby union on the side. His one disappointment is that he was not recalled to the Scottish rugby league side. He believes that he could still do a job at that level. A slightly younger Waddell would be useful at a higher level than that.

Although never as keen watching as playing, he could not help noticing what happened to the Great Britain pack recently against New Zealand. "We lack a few big men," he says. "All the emphasis has been on mobility and they've been trying to do away with the big forwards." There are still one or two lurking north of the border, as Wath Brow will find out this afternoon.

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
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