Dave Markey

It is sad to hear of the passing of former Saints’ second-rower Dave Markey, aged 74, after a long illness.

A local lad Dave went to Windleshaw Primary School and finished his education at St Teresa’s. He was a fine all-round sportsman in his youth and as a goalkeeper for the Town Team attracted the attention of Manchester City. Alas, his parents urged him to continue with his apprenticeship at Pilkingtons as a glass cutter, rather than the somewhat precarious rout of professional football, but semi-professional rugby league was soon to beckon.

His rugby career came to prominence with Ruskin Park Colts, from where he was signed by St Helens RFC. A forceful and belligerent second row forward, who relished the physical contact side of the sport, Dave made his debut in the First Team against Blackpool Borough on 12th September 1964. He was initially on the bench, with Peter Harvey for this game, which the Saints won 37-5. The game itself was characterized by a hat-trick from stand-off Keith Northey, together with a brace [and 5 goals] from scrum-half Alex Murphy.

A regular member of what was quite a strong A Team at Knowsley Road, Dave played for the seniors on seven occasions, with five more as substitute, scoring two tries. It was always extremely competitive for places in the back-row at the time of Dave’s arrival, with the likes of John Mantle, Ray French, John Warlow, Mervyn Hicks, Jimmy Mustard and others all vying for a spot. Dave’s last match for the Saints’ first team was when he came off the bench in the Floodlit trophy Preliminary round [second leg] against Salford at Knowsley Road, on 26th September 1966.

He damaged knee ligaments in the Challenge Cup quarter final against Swinton in 1966 and could, conceivably, have been on the bench for the Wembley showdown with Wigan. Yet he remained stoic. “Just to be in a dressing room, surrounded by the likes of Vollenhoven, Murphy, Watson and men like these was just fantastic and a privilege few rugby league players had”, he recalled several years ago. “They are priceless memories that will never leave me!”

He married Margaret [Catterall] in 1966 and early in the 1967-68 season, Dave was transferred to Widnes, with Ray French, as part of the deal that took Frank Myler to Knowsley Road. Dave played 18 times for the Chemics, scoring one try. He enjoyed the experience, but he was a St Helens lad at heart and never really wanted to leave Knowsley Road.

When he retired after his Widnes sojourn, he returned to one of his first loves: football and kept goal for Pilkingtons. In the summer months he was a wicketkeeper with St Helens Recs and played with distinction for a number of years in the Liverpool Competition. He also had a spell when he put the boots on once again to help the A team out at Knowsley Road. Dave also coached the youth teams at Ruskin Park and Blackbrook. Dave always kept himself fit with regular visits to the gym and trained at West Park RUFC when he could. He also loved to sing and was a member of the Woodlanders, a well-known group on the local scene.

After leaving Pilkingtons, he became a Classroom Assistant at Nugent House, a natural transition, according to his son, Chris: “Dad loved to help youngsters develop generally, not just in sport, and this role came quite naturally to him. He was truly selfless and remained heavily involved with St Julie’s Primary School and the Church in Eccleston”.

Dave maintained strong links with St. Helens RFC and remained a staunch committee member of the Saints’ Players Association, right from its inception in the late 1970s. “He loved going to other Associations’ functions,” remembers Chris. “He loved talking to those who he played against He was extremely proud to have represented his home town teams – Saints in particular. When he received news of his Heritage Number recently [820], he was so thrilled.”

Dave had a great sense of humour, right to the end and is survived by his wife, Margaret, son Chris, daughter Clare and four grandchildren.

Everyone at the St Helens club send their condolences to the family at this sad time.

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