Everyone at St.Helens RFC is sad to hear of the passing of former director and Chairman, Eric Latham who passed away on Saturday at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Born in St Helens on 17 December 1932 and educated at Rivington Road and Cowley School, he went to Manchester University and worked as a pathologist at Rainhill and Liverpool Royal Hospitals, before eventually becoming the Managing Director of local St Helens firm Kerr’s Minerals.
Always a huge supporter of his hometown club, he could just about remember the days of Alf Ellaby when he returned to the Saints just before the outbreak of war and as a schoolboy, Eric helped to clear the pitch of snow during those cold winter days at Knowsley Road. Eric was elected onto the Board of Directors in 1974 and remained until his enforced retirement through ill health in the late 1990s [February 1999] after a 25-year association with the club. Only Harry Cook had enjoyed a longer period of service on the board of St Helens RFC.
He became Chairman in the Autumn of 1989 after succeeding Joe Pickavance and remained at the helm until the 1993-94 season, when Eric Ashton began his own tenure in charge. It was a time when Saints were famed for their fabulous attacking rugby, with stars such as Shane Cooper, Paul Loughlin, Les Quirk and Kevin Ward. Saints came close to becoming Division One Champions in 1992-93, only to lose on points difference, although they beat Wigan at Old Trafford in the Premiership final. Eric also had the honour of leading out the team at Wembley in 1991, when we came so close to lifting the famous trophy. We also won the Lancashire Cup in 1991, when Rochdale Hornets were beaten 24-14 at Warrington.
Illness first struck when Eric was poised to become Chairman of the Rugby League Chairman’s Association. Yet he fought back and still managed to attend matches at Knowsley Road whenever he could. Eric, who lived in West Park [Apollo Perelini was a long-time neighbour] was unswerving in his loyalty to the Saints and remained good friends with another member of the Board, John Clegg and his wife Glynis.
“He was one of the most knowledgeable people when it came to rugby,” she maintains. “When he couldn’t get to matches, we used to come round and watch the televised games with him, which was always a pleasure. He was such a lovely man and we will both miss him terribly.”
Despite his retirement from board room matters, Eric was always on hand to offer his help and support to everyone at Saints. A long-standing member of the Institute of Biomedical Science, Eric was pre-deceased by his wife, Doreene in 2005.
Everyone at the club sends their condolences to the family at this sad time.