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A Shout From The Attic: Work - 13

Continuing his life story, Ronnie Bray recalls working with a rugby league star.

One of the carpenters on site was big Dave Valentine. He was a Rugby League player who played for Fartown, as Huddersfield Rugby League Club is known.

Dave Valentine, was one of the small but select band of Scots who made a major impact on the sport of rugby league, which celebrated an important centenary on Friday, September 1 2006. Valentine was undoubtedly the most famous of the Scottish rugger players, the former Hawick union player leading Great Britain to win the inaugural Rugby League World Cup in 1954.

Dave Valentine’s place in rugby league history was already assured before the inaugural 1954 World Cup. He had already won eleven test caps, played in Ashes-winning sides in 1948 and 1952, toured Australasia with the Lions earlier in 1954 and won a host of major honours with a sublimely entertaining Huddersfield team. He had been capped by Scotland at rugby union and in league he had been a mainstay for the celebrated Other Nationalities XIII.

A virile, hard-working, strong-tackling loose-forward and a leader others would follow, Valentine was offered the captaincy of Great Britain for the first World Cup when stand-off Willie Horne turned it down. It could have been a poisoned chalice for many of the returning 1954 Lions also decided to forego the experience and injuries ruled out other candidates.

History shows that Valentine’s party of underdogs went to France and confounded both the sceptics and the opposition. Britain probably never had a more inspirational captain as Valentine led them to a 16-12 victory in the final against an excellent French combination. That final at the Parc des Princes proved to be Valentine’s last appearance for Great Britain. What a way to finish.

Dave hammered screws into the floorboards to fasten them into the split steel joists that support the upper floors. None of the screws ever saw a screwdriver, except what he called his “Manchester Screwdriver.”

From Erith’s I went to work at Sharratt’s brickyard, near the top of the Ainleys on the Elland side, and it was from Sharratt’s that I enlisted.

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