EVERYONE in St. Helens knew what this meant between the wars! It was the verbal acknowledgement that the club’s first ‘superstar’ Alf Ellaby had run onto the field. And boy could he run!
His was a unique circumstance – a soccer player turning to a new code as a result of injury and becoming a living legend in his new domain, revered on two continents as one of the greatest wingers the rugby league code had ever seen. He is the most successful Saints player in terms of representative football and the most famous ‘local product,’ together with Alex Murphy and Keiron Cunningham.
One of the first players to realise his worth to the success of the team, he seemed to specialise in hat-tricks and forged a dynamic partnership with fellow winger and Kiwi star Roy Hardgrave in the late 1920s/early 1930s. Alf’s mere presence would add thousands to the ‘gate’ at Knowsley Road.
Although Challenge Cup and Championship final glory evaded him, he played for the Saints during a golden era for the game in St. Helens, with local rivals St. Helens Recreation adding extra ‘spice.’ His superb fitness enabled him to play at the highest level until his late thirties.
Alex Service’s biography, ‘He’s Here Now’ will be sold exclusively in the Superstore [12pm-2.30pm] before the Castleford game, priced £10.
It is a limited edition of 115 [Alf was born in 1902] so make sure you get your copy, as demand is likely to be high! The Ellaby family will be special guests at the Totally Wicked Stadium on matchday.
Alf was also a Director of the Castleford club for a spell.