DAVE Chisnall – one of the great characters of British rugby league – passed away this morning at the age of 64.
The former Leigh, Warrington, Saints, Barrow and Great Britain prop forward had been suffering from cancer.
Dave, who was brought up in Havelock Street on the edge of the town centre, was the youngest brother of a big sporting family with Les and Eric also playing professional rugby league and eldest John being a boxer.
A clever footballer and an excellent scrummager with a deceptive turn of pace for a stocky man, Dave turned professional with Leigh after Alex Murphy had spotted him playing for Parr Labour Club.
A larger than life character, Chissy was always in the thick of it as a player and never took a backward step.
In the days of contested scrums, a good number 8 was as invaluable as the hooker in securing a good supply of ball and Dave was a master of those front row arts.
He enjoyed some great early years at Hilton Park which saw him selected for the 1970 Australian tour and the World Cup squad later in the autumn.
However, Dave missed out on what would have been the highlight of his career at Leigh when a four-game ban saw him sidelined for the shock 1971 Challenge Cup final over Leeds at Wembley.
He did taste Wembley success three years later, again under Alex Murphy, but this time wearing the primrose of blue of Warrington. Chissy was part of the big Wire pack that saw off the physical challenge thrown at it by then holders Featherstone Rovers.
Between 1972/73 and 1974/75, durable Chissy was almost an ever-present in a side that handed the club its best ever season in terms of trophy success.
The Captain Morgan Trophy, the Player’s No6 Trophy, the Challenge Cup and the Club Championship were all won in 1973/74, adding to the League Leaders’ rose bowl in 1972/73.
In 1975 Dave was back beneath the twin towers as skipper, but this time he was on the losing side against Widnes.
His form was again good enough to earn a place in England’s 1975 World Championship side.
After short spells at Swinton and Leigh Dave teamed up with his brother Eric at Saints in January 1977, going on to play that year’s Premiership final win over Warrington at Station Road.
Dave’s last appearance as a player at Wembley came in the 14-12 Challenge Cup Final defeat by Leeds in 1978, where he gave a gutsy 80 minute stint opposite Mick Harrison and then Roy Dickinson.
After leaving Saints in 1979 Dave headed up to Barrow, where he assisted the south Cumbrians’ flourish in the early 80s which included an appearance in the 1981 John Player Final defeat by Warrington.
Despite being in the veteran stages of his career, Warrington came knocking again for the old head and he played a key role in helping the Wire see off favourites Saints in the 1982 Lancashire Cup Final at Wigan.
Dave came off the bench to get ‘under the skin’ of Saints playmakers Graham Liptrot, Harry Pinner and Neil Holding to ensure another winner’s medal was heading home.
After packing in playing, Dave returned to Knowsley Road as Alex Murphy’s assistant but alas there was to be no more Wembley success,
although he was on board for the club’s first and only John Player Trophy win in 1988.
He leaves behind wife Carol, children Lee, Phil, Jeanette and Michelle and seven grandchildren.