A St Helens-born centre who made four appearances in rugby league Challenge Cup showdowns has died at the age of 62 after a brave battle against cancer.

Derek Noonan had been ill for several months and passed away at his home in Marina Avenue, Sutton.

He leaves his widow, Alison, and children, Lisa and Stephen.

Standing 6ft and weighing 12 stone, Derek was signed by Warrington from St Helens RUFC and first trod the Wembley turf when the ‘Wires’ defeated Featherstone 24-9 in 1974, then again in the 14-7 reverse versus Widnes the following season.

On joining Saints, Noonan figured in the ‘Dad’s Army’ 20-5 success over Widnes in 1976, thus marking a genuine hat-trick of Wembley appearances for the lad reared in Burtonhead Road.

However, a moment of real nerve-wracking drama at the National Stadium arrived both for Saints and Derek Noonan when the men from Knowsley Road lost by a cliff-hanging 14-12 to Leeds in 1978.

For Saints had mounted a last-gasp assault on the Loiners’ line when Derek’s centre partner, Peter Glynn, passed to the right in a bid to send winger Les Jones over, who had the try-line yawning in front of him.

Sadly, the ball ricochetted off Derek’s shoulder in transit and the chance was lost, with the camera later revealing that this was the case and that Noonan did NOT knock on as was alleged.

As a spectator, I am happy to put the record straight.

A plumber by trade and a popular personality at Saints and Warrington Past Players’ Association functions, Derek made 122 appearances for Saints between 1976-80 in which he touched down 36 times.

He also won a Premership winners medal in 1975-76.

In addition, Noonan toured Australia with the World Cup squad in 1975.

Derek’s funeral will be held at St Nicholas, Sutton at 1.15pm next Tuesday, May 12, followed by a reception at Saints.