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A Saintly portrait
HE signed for Saints for the princely sum of £100 in 1953 and went on to score almost 2,000 points for his hometown club playing alongside legends like ‘Murph’ and ‘Voll’.
Now Austin Rhodes’ magnificent stint at Knowsley Road is being rightly celebrated in a new autobiography proving that his way with words is as fluent as his skill was on the field.
Rugby League hotbed Greenall’s club was a fitting setting for the launch of ex-Saints utility back Austin’s book, A lad from Donkey Common, or Thatto Heath for the uninitiated.
Today, Austin is based in Eccleston with wife Marlene, and they are parents of Martin and Karen.
Such was the importance of event the celebration that Karen jetted in from Australia.
In fact it was the 47-year-old marketing executive who suggested that dad’s sporting odyssey should be published, and the result is that the 154-page tale has proved to be a riveting read.
A sense of occasion was guaranteed by speakers Alex Murphy OBE, Ray French and Rhodes himself, with London League Publications director Peter Lush acting as compere, while Jim Mills and Frank Myler were there from the 13-a-side world.
A study of 75-years-young Austin’s career reveals his Rugby League baptism came aptly at St Austin’s School, often in tandem with ‘Murph’, and under the watchful gaze of legendary head master and coach Gerry Landers. Resilient Rhodes signed for Saints in 1953 for £100.
A former altar boy and Triplex employee, Austin’s record at Knowsley Road from 1955 to 1969 reads – 266 games, 98 tries, 819 goals, 1,932 points. He also had short spells at Swinton and Leigh.
Professional code highlights for Austin included Saints’ first Challenge Cup triumph, playing with ‘Voll’, plus entry into the club’s Hall of Fame.
In addition came numerous representative honours including being in the 1957 World Cup squad and coaching Pilkington Recs at amateur level.
A lad from Donkey Common costs £12.95 from Wardleworth’s, Westfield Street, or London League Publications, PO Box 65784, London NW2 9NS.