Harry Pimblett

IT is sad to report the death of Saints’ full-back Harry Pimblett at the age of 93.

Born in Union Street in the Gerards Bridge district of St. Helens in 1920 and one of six children, he originally attended Windle School and left at 14, working at BICC, the Corporation Transport Department and United Glass Bottlers in St. Helens.

Sport always loomed large in Harry’s early life. Standing 6 feet and weighing 13 stone in his prime, the personable, Harry played junior soccer and rugby for the Star, Merton Bank, Saints’ ‘A’ and had the unique distinction of playing in the very last Saints v Recs match at Knowsley Road prior to answering the call of King and Country in 1940, when he also married Betty Chisnall [of the famous rugby family] at St. Thomas’s Church.

Harry enlisted in the Welsh Guards on 6th June 1940 and before being sent overseas, he appeared in both codes of rugby by guesting for Wigan and Dewsbury [managed by Eddie Waring], plus Union sides Metropolitan Police, Wasps and Sandown Park.

He was even selected for England international duty, versus Wales at Swansea, where he was Man-of-the Match. Harry was taken prisoner at Perugia, in Italy, just at the edge of the famous Monte Cassino and was sent to a POW camp near Dachau.

A strong, fast runner, with good hands, Pimblett went on to make 104 appearances for the Knowsley Road team, scoring 22 tries. He ran in a scorching 60-yard touchdown in Saints’ memorable 12-7 victory at Central Park in 1947, but things did not work out for him at St. Helens and he was transferred to Belle Vue Rangers shortly afterwards.

He remembered that his return to Knowsley Road with the Manchester club was quite an experience when he dropped a goal from the Popular Stand side that helped his team to a 9-0 win. Harry enjoyed his stay with the Manchester club, whose chairman was legendary Tom Spedding and their left winger Saints’ future target Stan McCormick. He then hung up his boots, aged 34, when the Belle Vue club folded in 1954.

Unfortunately, Harry was affected by a trio of tragedies during his lifetime, which would have tested the resolve of any man. The loss of his only child, Jack was a particularly hard blow to take.

A former schoolboy star, he was on Saints’ books for a spell and played several First Team matches with the club. Unfortunately, Jack died after sustaining injuries when playing for amateurs Pilkington Recreation in 1971. He was just 27.

Harry also lost his wife, Betty in 2003 following 63 years of happy marriage. There were also on-going health problems too, with his right leg amputated in 2005.

Given the nature of the man, he remained philosophical, despite such unfortunate circumstances and the great-grandfather lived in Grafton Street, with occasional forays for a wee dram at Windle Labour Club on a Sunday night, where rugby league tales always figured highly.

He was a lovely man, with time for everyone and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

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