Jan 11, 2016
The Greatest of All Time
The Prince of Centres
Where it all began• This is the George
Hotel in Huddersfield.
• At a meeting here in 1895, the Rugby League was formed.
• Clubs in the north of England wanted to pay their players.
• Many of the northern clubs’ players were ordinary working men.
• They wanted to be paid for the working time they missed to play rugby.
• The richer players in the south continued to play rugby union, but many northern clubs broke away to play northern union.
• In 1995 the Rugby League celebrated the one hundredth birthday of the 13 aside game.
• Special stamps were issued.
• One of them showed Harold Wagstaff.
• Harold was born on 19 May 1891 at Underbank, Holmfirth.
• He and his mates played rugby every day.
• They used a yeast bag stuffed with rags for a ball.
• They met and played close to the Holmfirth village pump.
• When Harold was aged 12, they formed a team called Pump Hole Rangers.
• When he was 14 he made his debut for Underbank Rangers
• Here are some of Harold’s team mates at Underbank Rangers
• On 2 November 1906 Harold signed from Underbank to play for Huddersfield.
• Eight days after signing for Huddersfield he made his debut, aged 15 years and 175 days.
• He remains the game’s youngest-ever professional player.
Harold Wagstaff• On 2 January 1909
Harold made his England debut against Australia.
• He was aged 17 years and 228 days.
• He remains rugby league’s youngest international player.
Harold Wagstaff• He went on to play
for Huddersfield until 1925.
• He made 436 appearances for Huddersfield, still the club record.
• He scored 175 tries.• Harold also
captained Great Britain.
Here is Harold (right) before an international match against France
Harold Wagstaff• The Huddersfield
team before the First World War became known as ‘the Team of all Talents’
• In 1914 they won all four trophies on offer!
Harold Wagstaff• Here are Harold and
trainer Albert Bennett with:
• The League Championship trophy
• The Yorkshire League trophy
• The Yorkshire Cup• The Challenge Cup
Harold Wagstaff• Here is the shirt
that Harold wore in the 1915 Challenge Cup Final.
• Huddersfield beat St Helens in this match 37-3.
Harold Wagstaff• In 1914 Harold
captained the Great Britain side on their tour of Australia and New Zealand.
• He was the first working-class man to lead any official British national group from any walk of life to a country abroad.
• He played brilliantly, leading Great Britain to victory in one of the most exciting matches ever!
• In the third and deciding Test Match in Sydney, injuries reduced Britain to ten men for most of the second half, but they held out to win,14-6.
Harold Wagstaff• This match is known as
the ‘Rorke’s Drift Test’, after the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in the Boer War in South Africa, when outnumbered British troops resisted attacks by fierce Zulu warriors.
• Harold later said:• “Never had I nine such
men with me on a football field as I had that day.”
Harold Wagstaff• During World War I Harold
gave a great deal of time to play in charity rugby and cricket matches, helping to raise money for war-charities.
• From 1917 he served in the army in Egypt and Palestine.
• In 1919-20 he led Huddersfield to further successes.
• In 1920 he captained Great Britain on another tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Harold Wagstaff• ‘Ahr Waggy’ died in 1939, aged
just 48.• His coffin was carried by eight
of his old Huddersfield team mates and decorated with claret and gold flowers.
• As his funeral cortege passed through Huddersfield and Holmfirth, the streets were lined with thousands of mourners paying their last respects.
Harold Wagstaff• At Holmfirth Parish Church
Reverend Cashmore said …
• “Holmfirth was rightly proud of a man who … had carried her name far beyond their hills and valleys.
• He had great qualities of heart and mind and body that won for him the confidence and admiration of thousands.”
• Harold is buried in Holmfirth.
Harold Wagstaff• Many believe that Harold was the
greatest player ever.• His nickname is ‘The Prince of
Centres’.• He broke through class boundaries
and proved that a working-class man can be an ambassador for his country.
• Through his skills and his conduct, ‘Ahr Waggy’ earned the respect of everyone.
Harold Wagstaff (1891-1939)