Obituary: Mr Jimmy Ledgard

ONE of Dewsbury RL club's all-time greats, Jimmy Ledgard, has died.

Born in Wakefield in 1922, Jimmy was an outstanding full-back and kicker, and played his part as vice-captain when an unlikely and unrated Great Britain team won the first ever Rugby League World Cup in 1954. He played in all four games and scored one try and landed 13 goals, including two in the final, against France in Paris.

He began his rugby career during his school days at Manygates in Wakefield and gained county honours as a schoolboy.

Jimmy left school at the age of 14 and trained as a joiner with shop fitting firm, Drakes and Waters – a trade he continued throughout his playing years.

After spending his youth playing for Wakefield Trinity Juniors and Sandal, Jimmy went to Leeds for trials, where Eddie Waring, the then manager, turned him down, saying he wasn't big enough to make the team. It was while he was training at Leeds, during 1943/1944, that he met his future wife Betty.

She said: "The first game he took me to watch him play he broke his ankle and we spent Saturday night in Leeds General Infirmary. That was something to remember."

Jimmy wasn't without a club after leaving Leeds though.

Dewsbury signed him and he played for them for four years, playing in the 1947 Championship final when Dewsbury lost to Wigan at Manchester's Maine Road, before leaving for Leigh, for a fee of 2,650 – the highest rugby transfer fee ever paid at that time.

Shortly after, in 1948, he and Betty married at the Zion Congregational Chapel in Wakefield. Following the wedding, the couple moved to Leigh.

Jimmy played for Leigh until 1958. During his time there, which included a tour of Australia in 1950, he made 334 appearances, scoring 36 tries and 1,043 goals, to record a total haul of 2,194 points in a Leigh shirt.

In 1958 Jimmy returned to play the latter part of his career at Dewsbury and remained a popular figure with supporters.

When the club moved from Crown Flatt to its current site on Owl Lane, Jimmy and another former player, Harry Royal, dug the first sod.

In return, both players had rooms in the stadium named after them. Jimmy ended his playing days in 1960 at Dewsbury and he has since had the rare distinction of being admitted to the Hall of Fame at both the Dewsbury and Leigh clubs.

In the same year, he and Betty moved to Dewsbury, where he continued his work as a joiner until retiring aged 64.

After his retirement, he enjoyed playing golf, and swapped playing for watching rugby.

Both he and Betty liked going on holiday and spending time in their garden, at their home in Malvern Road, Earlsheaton.

Jimmy was a member of Dewsbury Probus Club and Hanging Heaton Golf Club and for a short time he joined a painting class at Ebenezer Methodist Church.

Betty said: "He was lovely. He liked a joke and he was a good sport. He wasn't one to push himself forward and wouldn't brag. He was a lovely man."

Jimmy's funeral was held on Friday, February 2, at Hanging Heaton Methodist Church. He leaves his wife Betty, daughter Susan, son-in-law David and granddaughter, Anne-Marie.