IT is sad to announce the passing of one of the most popular players ever to wear the red, black and amber of Pilkington Recs ARLFC, writes Alex Service.

Geoff Phillips, universally known as ‘Jethro’ died after a battle with illness at the age of 71 on 14th February.

His unique soubriquet was bestowed upon him by fellow-forward Eric Frodsham, who thought that he resembled the Cornish comedian who used the same nickname.

A hard-running second rower with quite a bit of pace in full flight, Jethro’s finest moment for his beloved Pilks was on 16 May 1975, when the Recs won their first-ever BARLA Cup final, against Mayfield at Knowsley Road. In front of nearly 2,000 fans.

Jethro scored one of his team’s four tries in that 22-4 success, the others being scored by Johnny McCabe [2] and Joey Hull. Dennis Colbon kicked 5 goals.

A Clinkham Wood lad, Jethro once took the professional ticket with Wigan, but things didn’t work out and he returned to City Road where it all began, although he did play several games for Saints A team in the late 1960s.

St Helens Star:

He worked at Pilkington’s Cowley Hill works and it is true to say that he devoted so much of his time and energy to the City Road club over the years.

“He was a great guy,” remembers his good friend Denis Litherland.

“I suppose you could say he was a real folk hero down at City Road.

“It was his whole life at one stage and he did more or less everything during his time there.

“Jethro was loved by everybody and was certainly one of the lads.

“He was a gentle giant and would always help you out if needed, he was that sort of guy.”

Billy Dillon, another Pilks’ legend, adds his own tribute: “He was so well-known and so well thought of throughout the amateur game.

“He was the A team coach at City Road for many years and he really pushed to try and get me into the First Team, which I did do eventually.

“Jethro was a real character and tales about him are legendary, like the time he took on and out-drank a famous rugby league television pundit during a Sportsmans Dinner at City Road, who was considerably worse for wear afterwards!

“Jethro was absolutely gutted when Pilks had to leave City Road. It meant so much to him.”

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, 3 March at 11.45am at St David's Moss Bank, followed by the Crematorium at 1pm.