THE warmth and sadness in the tributes paid to Roy Haggerty this week should come as no surprise to fans of a certain generation.

Put simply, he was our rough diamond  - a player who made our lives richer for having had the privilege of watching him perform.

Never the biggest of forwards, but what he lacked in size he more than made up for with honest hard work and a fearless determination to break the line.

There was nothing in his play book about surrender and finding the floor, and once he had stopped making ground the hands would wriggle free, Houdini like, and the pass would be flicked out whether there was a man there or not!

If they had built a brick wall across the park, he would have still had a crack at running through it.

It was that which made him such a favourite on the terraces - a real, boyhood hero.

But it was also about timing too.

Haggerty emerged into the team at a time when Saints' glory days had ended, big stars had retired and with crowds plummeting meaning the money to bring in signings was not there.

It was a vicious circle - but the only thing that broke that downward spiral and prevented them following Wigan into division two was the crop of good St Helens youngsters which included Haggerty.

Another of Thatto Heath's rugby playing sons, Haggerty's strong displays on a Thursday night in the A team, got him into the first team panel and he soon established himself.

Although the generic pen pictures in away match programmes would always declare what he was capable of 'once he develops physically' which some thought a euphemism for being scrawny, there was nothing weedy about his displays.

Defences soon found that out as they failed to deal with the 'Haggy shuffle'.

And it would be any means necessary to break the defence, using the hard parts of his body to break the line - most notable the brace he scored in the 1983 Challenge Cup tie win at Headingley.

A trail of amber and blue lay in his wake after Hurricane Haggy had cut a swathe through the Loiners defence.

In one Lancashire Cup tie against Barrow in 1981 Haggerty even deployed head his to beat off Steve Tickle's tackle en route to the line.

But there was also the comical side to Haggerty's personality that endeared him to the fans - and there is a long list of urban myths around his presence on the 1988 Australia tour.

He had that wonderful capacity to make people laugh - even when he did not mean to.

In 1986, under the old two subs rule, Haggerty had been taken off late in the game at a muddy Dewsbury.

Opting to sneak off into to the Crown Flatt baths before his colleagues got to the clean water, Haggerty got a rude awakening when five minutes from time Saints picked up a late injury and needed a replacement.

The call went down the tunnel, and moments later a sheepish looking player ran on to the field with a head full of white shampoo suds.

Sport is about endeavour and entertainment, and it is fair to say and Roy gave us that in abundance.

So from all who ever shouted 'Go on, Roy!' on a murky afternoon at Knowsley Road, thanks for the memories and rest in peace.