Peter Metcalfe Passes Away

SUPPORTERS of a particular generation will be saddened to hear of the passing of our former stand-off Peter Metcalfe, on February 13, who was in his mid 80s, writes Alex Service.

Thatto Heath-born Peter attended St. Austin’s school and, just like another former pupil, Alex Murphy a few years later, he made the grade with the Saints.

Signed after an amateur career with Pilkington Recs [he worked at Sheet Works originally] and United Services, Peter made rapid strides in the A Team, before making a successful debut against Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue on December 27 1952. The visitors won 20-11 and Peter scored a try, with his partner at scrum-half, John Dickinson, another local lad, notching a brace!

Just seven games into his senior career at Knowsley Road he was selected at stand-off for the 1953 Championship final against Halifax at Manchester City’s Maine Road ground. In front of more than 50,000, Peter scored a try and three goals as Saints won their second Championship 24-14.

Although he was a specialist goal-kicker, Peter had all the attributes of a great stand-off with the ball in hand: swerve, step, eye for the gap and great handling skills. It was no surprise that both county and international recognition came his way in what was a brilliant season for him in 1953-54. He also played in the 1953 Lancashire Cup final against Wigan at Swinton and kicked five goals for good measure in the Saints’ 16-8 success – the first time the two old rivals had clashed in a major final!

At the end of the 1953-54 season he was the league’s leading point’s scorer, with 369 and shared the leading goalkicker’s tag with Warrington’s Harry Bath [153].

Unfortunately, Peter suffered a severe knee injury, which eventually forced him into premature retirement from the game he loved. His last match for the Saints was at home to York, on September 3 1955.

Although St. Helens won 26-18, he could not carry on.

According to his wife, Joan [a Haresfinch girl – they married in 1952], they were involved in a number of business enterprises over the years and they also migrated to Australia for a couple of years [Brisbane] where Peter did some coaching locally.

He did continue his local rugby league links with his former club, Pilkington Recs and coached them to their first-ever match against a professional club when they played at Hull KR in 1961.

Peter and Joan had a hotel on the front at Southport for several years, before moving to the Scarborough area, where they had, at various times, three hotels and a chip shop. They remained on the Yorkshire coast until Peter’s death.

Apart from wife Joan, Peter is survived by son Stephen and daughter Marie. The latter certainly inherited her father’s sporting genes by representing England at hockey!

Peter is fondly remembered by his friends in both the amateur and professional game and we send our condolences to the Metcalfe family at this sad time.

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