Kez Comes Home!

IT looks like Saints’ legend Keiron Cunningham will be at the front of the queue to see the Club’s new state-of-the-art stadium.

A bronze statue of the former club skipper yesterday took pride of place outside Saints’ new 18,000-capacity arena on Peasley Cross Lane, which is due to be completed later this month by developers Langtree.

Cunningham, often referred to as “The King”, was chosen in a poll of supporters to be cast as a statue outside the new ground.

The creation, commissioned by St Helens Council, has been housed on Chalon Way in the town, awaiting completion of the stadium. It has since been delivered to stadium developer Langtree and has now been positioned in pride of place at the head of the new stadium.

Council Leader Marie Rimmer said: “The commissioning by the council of the statue was in recognition of the achievements of not only Saints on-going success on the field, but also of the invaluable contribution have made to the people, community and the very identity of St. Helens through the decades, made by what is undoubtedly one of the world’s best and best known rugby league clubs.

“The means chosen was to commission a sculpture of a Saints player past or present which epitomised the spirit, passion and success of the club, leaving the public to decide who this was.”

Captain Keiron Cunningham polled the most with more han 10,000 people voting for him. He pipped Tom van Vollenhoven at the post with 8820. Third was former Man of Steel Paul Wellens with 1501, followed by Alex Murphy on 1284, Alf Ellaby on 249 and Vinty Karalius on 203. It proved to be the single biggest ever response to a consultation by the Council.

John Downes, Managing Director of Langtree, said: “We have almost completed work on the stadium, so it is time for Keiron to finally come home.

“Everyone in the town appreciates what an incredible job Keiron Cunningham did for Saints, for rugby league and for the town itself. He is a fine ambassador for his home town, so it’s only right that he should have such a proud and prominent position.”

Eamonn McManus, Saints Chairman, added: “Keiron Cunningham is Saints through and through and for me he was the right and obvious choice to be enshrined at our fantastic new home.

“We have had some legendary players representing this club, and Keiron is considered the best of the best. This statue is a permanent tribute to his ability and means Saints fans will never forget his achievements.”

Saints legend Cunningham said: “There are few words to describe the immense pride I feel every time I see the statue. I’ve said before that I’d like to put it in my own back garden and keep it for myself but, seeing it here, I realise it’s found an even more special place to call home.

“It’s an awesome arena and I think Langtree have provided the club with a stadium for the future. I would have loved to play here in front of 18,000 Saints fans.”

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