Walmsley humble following St Helens Grand Final glory

Alex Walmsley gets his hands on the Super League trophy after the Grand Final win over Wigan.
Alex Walmsley gets his hands on the Super League trophy after the Grand Final win over Wigan.

Walking out in front of 70,000 spectators on the biggest stage of the rugby league season is the stuff most schoolboys can only dream of.

For one Dewsbury player, that dream became reality last Saturday when Alex Walmsley helped St Helens win the Super League Grand Final, beating arch rivals Wigan Warriors 14-6.

Walmsley’s rise to the top has been quite remarkable when you consider just two and a half years ago, he was playing with local amateurs Dewsbury Celtic.

The 24-year-old could be forgiven for thinking last Saturday was a dream and admitted: “I’m still pinching myself to be honest.

“Sometimes I wake up and have to think am I really playing in Super League and at a club like St Helens?

“It’s been a real rollercoaster couple of years but it has been a great journey.”

Walmsley was plucked from the amateur game and handed a trial with Batley Bulldogs and after signing his first professional contract, the prop proved a revelation.

After just one season with the Bulldogs, Walmsley earned a three-year contract with Super League giants St Helens.

Little over 12 months later, Walmsley was playing on the biggest stage of all and helping Saints win the Grand Final.

Despite his rapid rise to the top, Walmsley has not forgotten his roots and is looking forward to having a pint with his mates back at the Dewsbury Irish Nash.

Walmsley said: “I am very grateful and very humble about what I am part of but I’ll never forget my roots and the days at Dewsbury Celtic.

“I have to pay massive dividends to Paul Heaton, who was my coach at Celtic, and I can’t speak highly enough of him.

“I have to give a massive thanks to my good friend Danny Maun, who put a word in to John Kear, telling Batley to watch me.

“I remember sitting down with John, Kevin Nicholas and Paul Harrison when I signed for Batley and they explained that I’d probably play four or five games that season as a stepping stone — well it didn’t quite turn out like that.”

Walmsley was named in the Championship All Stars team of the season after a magnificent campaign with the Bulldogs saw him play 19 games, scoring seven tries.

He added: “John always wanted me to get the best out of my career and although I still had another year on my contract at Batley, he was great at getting me my move to St Helens.

“We sat down at Saints and similar things were said, that I may only play a handful of games, which is why I was keen to sign dual-registration terms with Batley in that first season.

“In the end I only played a couple more games with Batley but I won’t forget my time there and I am thankful to everyone who has played a part in a great couple of years.

“My phone hasn’t stopped since winning the Grand Final and I’ve had a number of messages from Batley fans and I’d like to thank them all. They have been great to me and I think there are quite a few St Helens fans in Batley now.”

“Although I now live in St Helens, I still come back to Dewsbury as much as I can and enjoy meeting up with the Celtic boys in the Irish Nash.

“It’s been a pretty hectic few days but I’m looking forward to coming back and having a pint with everyone at Celtic.”