R.I.P Bill Ashall

Former front-rower Bill Ashall has passed away at the age of 83.

Saints Heritage Number #775

Born: St Helens – 21st March 1937

Died: St Helens – 2nd September 2020

A local lad from Parr who went to Holy Cross School and loved sport, Bill was 19 when he joined Saints from the UGB amateur team, where he was an apprentice engineer. Two years later he was called up by the army for his National Service, which saw him serve overseas and closer to home at Ripon.

Bill falls under the category of those who have played just a single match for the seniors, although he was an important member of the A team at Knowsley Road for many years. He played in the front row against Hunslet at home on 20th August 1960 and his fellow compatriots in the engine room were Abe Terry and hooker Bob Dagnall. Saints beat their Yorkshire rivals 22-10, with tries from half-backs Wilf Smith and Alex Murphy, centre Ken Large and Jan Prinsloo on the left wing. Austin Rhodes and Percy Landsberg kicked a goal apiece. A surprise choice at loose forward was Welshman and former full-back Roy Pritchard, who later joined Rochdale Hornets.

A forceful front-rower, Bill later moved on to Salford [Heritage Number #611], where he came under the tutelage of former Saints Welsh second rower George Parsons, who was coach at the Willows. He made his debut for the Red Devils on 12th April 1963 against Blackpool Borough. There was an enclave of St Helens-born players at Salford and Bill would share the drive over for training and matches with winger Alan Dorning. A knee injury forced his retirement from the game in the late 1960s.

On returning from the army, Bill embarked on a new career path as a probation officer, eventually retiring in 1996. He married his wife, Cath in 1963 and they have a son, Martin and daughter Julie, together with grandchildren Matthew and Lucy. A long-time resident of Billinge, he was laid to rest at Birchley St Mary’s on Wednesday 16th September.

Bill was a proud man indeed when he came to receive his Heritage Number Certificate on the third of the club’s Open Days last year and he was photographed next to the Super League trophy too.

Everyone at St.Helens R.F.C. sends their condolences to Bill’s family at this difficult time.

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