Tribute to former Wakefield Trinity and Batley Bulldogs player John Etty who has died aged 97

Former Wakefield Trinity and Batley Bulldogs star John Etty has died aged 97.
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His daughter Jean Griffith shared a tribute with the Express.

John was born into a family of seven children in Batley. He was the middle child and the only one to go to grammar school

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His national service was as a Bevin Boy and always claimed that the wages were only 50p a day.

John EttyJohn Etty
John Etty

He started playing rugby at Batley and worked as a welfare officer in Dewsbury.

He played for Oldham and was a star scorer there until he was transferred to Wakefield Trinity for £500.

He won every available medal for both Yorkshire and Lancashire and a gold medal for the Challenge Cup final 1960, meeting the Queen and Prince Philip.

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Jean said: “We had the cup in our house in Batley and polished it on our kitchen table.

“He soon afterwards retired from rugby as he had injured his achilles tendon and couldn't sprint like he used to at 32.

“We moved to Wiltshire as he was promoted to area welfare officer at Chippenham.”

Three years later he to Middlesbrough where he was deputy director of social services, then to Fleetwood as head of social services.

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He was married to his wife, Kath, for 74 years. They had two daughters, Jean and Janice, four grandsons and now four great grandchildren.

They had many trips around the world and both enjoyed dancing.

They went to classes in Middlesbrough and Blackpool when they moved and some in Fleetwood.

Jean said: “Dad was sociable and gave many interviews for radio and newspapers and was alway very happy to chat about rugby.

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“He loved gardening but used to mistake plants as weeds and vice versa.

“He died peacefully in Blackpool Victoria Hospital of frailty of old age.”

Kath is still alive and will be 99 next month.

Oldham Rugby League Football Club, one of his former teams, published a tribute to John.

The club said: “He was the last surviving member of what is generally known as Oldham’s ‘great side of the 50s’ – the team that won the Lancashire Cup.”

John’s funeral is Tuesday, March 19, 10am at The Emmanuel Church, Mount Road, Fleetwood, followed by a gathering at the Cleveleys Working Men's Club.