THE temperature outside may have dropped and the gritters may have been out last night, so of course we cannot be far off the rugby league season starting.

It is of course nothing like 1962-63 when the extremes of winter really did bite and stopped the season for 11 weeks.

The season already had an air of difference about it before a ball had been kicked, with the First Division formed from the previous year’s top 16 breaking up the one big league of 30 for the first time since 1905.

Saints had a strong squad...and here is the A team ready to play the first team in a practice match to demonstrate that point.

St Helens Star:

A Team [v first team] Back row: Ray French, Frank Ward, Joe Egan, George Case, Duggie Laughton, Jimmy Mustard Front row: Billy Benyon, Tony Barrow, Frank Barrow, Brian McGinn [Capt], Keith Northey, Cen Williams, Ian Jones.

But what made the year stick out was the big freeze which saw Saints go without a game from December 22 until March 9 the following year.

It puts the few snow flurries we experienced here just after Christmas into perspective.

St Helens Star:

PICTURED: St Helens 21 Leigh 3, Western Division Championship at Knowsley Road; 22nd August 1962; 15,000 Home debuts for Coslett [6G] and Killeen [2T] Back row: Fred Leyland, Ray French, Bob Dagnall, John Tembey, Cliff Watson, Kel Coslett, Keith Northey.

Front row: Tom van Vollenhoven, John Donovan, Bill Major [Capt], Alan Briers, Wilf Smith, Len Killeen.

That year Saints handed debuts to a number of players - including a couple of future Lance Todd Trophy winners - with John Arkwright, Len Killeen, Joe Egan, Kel Coslett, Peter Goddard, Bill Harper, Jeff Heaton, Mick Mooney and Cen Williams all making their first senior appearances.

New Welsh rugby union recruit Coslett, then at full back, would be the team’s only ever present with 44 appearances in league and cup.

Saints had started that year brightly, winning the Lancashire Cup with a 7-4 victory over Swinton courtesy of a Tom van Vollenhoven try and two Coslett goals.

But form was patchy for a spell after that cup win, losing half of the eight games before the ice and snow brought rugby league to a grinding halt.

The big freeze stopped play for 11 weeks and when it resumed Saints were certainly caught cold, losing 3-2 at Hull KR in the league and then getting knocked out of the Challenge Cup at Halifax.

It also meant, even with an extension to May 30, some eye-watering fixture congestion that puts even this current heavy schedule into a bit of persepective.

In April, for example Saints played eight, losing four of the last five in that month. Significantly – after beating Wigan in front of 40,996 at Central Park, they lost back-to-back games against Swinton in a crazy spell of three matches in four days.

Those matches would prove pivotal in deciding the destination of the title with the Lions taking the title with 45 points, six points clear of runners-up Saints.

St Helens Star:

PICTURED: St Helens 7 Swinton 4, Lancashire Cup final at Central Park; 27 October 1962; 23,523 Back row: Cliff Watson, Kel Coslett, Dick Huddart, John Tembey, Bill Major [Capt with cup], Bob Dagnall, Mick Sullivan.

Front row: Tom van Vollenhoven, Wilf Smith, Billy Benyon, Jeff Heaton, John Donovan. Absent from picture: John Arkwright [sent off]