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The day Vinty's lost shorts cost him a try
HE has seen the true legends of the game over 72 years and already has a seat lined up for the new stadium when his beloved team in the red vee finally moves home.
Bill Swift has seen the great and the good of rugby league throughout the decades and is looking forward to taking up his place at Saints new home.
The 86-year-old granddad from Haresfinch said: “I’m always in favour of progress, because nothing ever stands still.
“When you look back at Saints throughout the 40s and 50s, the club has done well to keep the ground open for as long as they have and in the main keep the spectators happy.”
Born in Peasley Cross, Bill, who spent nearly 50 years working down the pit said it is difficult to pinpoint specific memories of Knowsley Road because there were too many to mention.
He did admit however: “The best memories were when we beat Wigan. That’s always great.
“I do remember one game when Vince Karalius went over for a try but crossed the line without shorts on, because they’d been ripped off.
“But the referee wouldn’t give it because he was ‘ill dressed’.”
He has seen the likes of Alan Prescott, Alex Murphy, a half back he described as ‘a breath of fresh air’, and Tom Van Vollenhoven come and go, but he said the most technically gifted was Jimmy Stott, who played almost 200 games for Saints throughout the 40s.
“I used to go to every game and even when I was on nights, I would go straight to the match. In those days the crowds seemed much bigger than now.
“It was always full and you had to go early to get in. But you always think that when you were younger that was the best team to watch. That’s human nature.”
But it’s not just the older players who he admires.
He described a recent meeting with one of Saints brightest prospects, Kyle Eastmond.
“I was watching them training as he was running up and down. I said, ‘come here young fella’ and he replied ‘yes sir’.
“He was very polite. I said to him, since you have been at the club, you have been the best half back since Jimmy Honey.
“He turned to me and said ‘thank you very much sir’ and went on his way,” he said.