THE RFL has received more than 10,000 nominations already for the subject of the proposed statue at Wembley that will celebrate Rugby League’s long and colourful association with the national stadium.
Fans across the UK and overseas have been casting their vote for the subject of the statue since last Saturday, when a provisional longlist of 10 Rugby League legends was published in the Wembley programme for the Gillette Four Nations double header.
That longlist has now been extended to 13 names following heavy voting for three more of the sport’s all-time greats: Barrow’s legendary stalwart Willie Horne, Wigan hero Eric Ashton MBE and Gus Risman of Workington Town.
“Our plans for a Wembley statue have really captured the imagination of the whole Rugby League family and it’s terrific that so many people have already cast their votes,” said RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood.
“Wembley clearly holds a special place in the hearts of Rugby League fans everywhere and it’s right and proper that we celebrate our association with the stadium in this way.
“We want to hear the views of as many of our stakeholders as possible before making a final decision and I’m sure we will receive more votes and nominations as the selection process continues.”
The longlist of 13 is as follows:
Eric Ashton MBE
The first person to win the Challenge Cup as a captain, coach and chairman, Ashton spent his entire playing career at Wigan, scoring 231 tries and 448 goals in 497 appearances. Three Challenge Cup victories, an Ashes success and a World Cup triumph ensured he cemented his reputation as one of the greatest players in Rugby League history.
Billy Boston MBE
A prolific try-scorer during his career with Wigan and Blackpool Borough, the Welsh flier lit up Wembley on six occasions, winning three Challenge Cups. A member of the RL Hall of Fame, Boston scored 478 tries in 485 games for Wigan.
Jonathan Davies MBE
Another signing from Wales RU, Davies made a hugely successful cross-code switch with Widnes and Warrington. Equally at home at stand-off, centre and full-back, from where he scored a stunning try at Wembley in 1994 as Great Britain defeated Australia 8-4.
Shaun Edwards OBE
Won nine Challenge Cup finals at Wembley with Wigan and also appeared at the stadium with London Broncos in 1999. Edwards was the lynchpin of the Wigan side. Was sent off for a high tackle on Bradley Clyde of Australia at Wembley in 1994.
A huge talent, Fox remains a heroic figure at both Featherstone and Wakefield Trinity, with whom he won the Lance Todd Trophy as Man of the Match at Wembley in 1968. His place in Cup legend is assured from that final, when he missed the last-kick conversion that would have won the game for Wakefield.
Neil Fox MBE
The younger brother of Don and Peter, Neil Fox scored a phenomenal 6,220 points during a career that took in six clubs, most notably Wakefield Trinity. A strong, powerful centre, his two tries and seven goals helped Trinity to victory over Hull at Wembley in 1960.
Ellery Hanley MBE
Regarded by many as the greatest Rugby League player of all time, the three-time Man of Steel often saved his best for Wembley with Wigan and Great Britain. He won four Challenge Cup finals with Wigan, the first against Halifax in 1988 when he scored a sensational try.
Born and raised in Barrow, Willie Horne served his home-town club with distinction and captained them to three Challenge Cup finals in the 1950s, including a famous victory against Workington at Wembley in 1955. He represented Great Britain as a tourist in 1946 and 1950 and also captained England and Lancashire during his career.
Alex Murphy OBE
The scrum-half captained three different clubs at Wembley – St Helens, Leigh and Warrington – and is still held in high esteem by fans of all three clubs. A precocious talent, Murphy was outstanding in a Great Britain jersey, for which he collected 27 caps.
Martin Offiah MBE
‘Chariots’ is already celebrated at Wembley with a bar named after him in recognition of the wonder try he scored in the 1994 Challenge Cup final against Leeds, when he brought the stadium to its feet on an 80-metre run. He won four Challenge Cup finals with Wigan and represented Great Britain on 33 occasions.
Spent 27 seasons involved in the sport, steered his beloved Workington Town to victory in the Championship in 1951 and to a famous Challenge Cup victory at Wembley in 1952, becoming the oldest ever Cup winner at the age of 41. During a career with Salford, Workington and Batley, he established career records which place him second in terms of all-time appearances with 873, third in terms of points scored with 4,052 and fifth in terms of goal kicked with 1,678.
Clive Sullivan MBE
The flying Welsh winger remains a legendary figure in Hull, where he scored 250 tries for Hull and 118 for Hull KR. He captained Great Britain in the 1972 World Cup final and was on the wing for Hull KR in the Hull derby at Wembley in 1980.
The New Zealander was a member of Wigan’s first Challenge Cup winning team in 1911 and later went on to be a hugely successful manager at Salford. The man of the match award in the Challenge Cup final, the Lance Todd Trophy, commemorates his contribution to the sport.
The RFL is inviting nominations up until December 31 when the voting will end.
To vote for any of the 10 players list – or to submit their own nomination or idea – fans can nominate their chosen player in a special voting form (attached and included in the Gillette Four Nations programmes); by visiting the RFL’s webpage at www.therfl.co.uk; the Super League website www.superleague.co.uk; and via an on-line poll. Votes can also be placed via any of the RFL’s official Facebook channels.