SAINTS Past Players Association held their annual Luncheon and three more club greats joined the Hall of Fame.

The 2024 Luncheon, hosted by Mike Bennett certainly didn’t disappoint and produced some memorable moments for the packed throng at the Totally Wicked Stadium with three former players joining the pantheon of ‘Greats’.

First off was former centre Billy Mercer, from between the Wars, represented by his daughter, Helen Young and her son Shon.

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They enhanced the occasion by bringing Billy’s Lancashire, cap and jersey, together with the England jersey he wore against Other Nationalities in 1930. Rather poignantly, too, Helen wore her father’s medal from the 1930 Wembley final as a pendant.

Billy made 301 appearances for the Saints, from 1925-37 and later went on to serve the club as A team coach and as a scout.

The special plaque was presented by another centre of repute, Billy Benyon, who came under Mercer’s wing during his early days as a junior Saint.

Fast forward to the 1980s and it was the turn of another local lad who had represented his town and the red vee from his school days to receive his award.

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Steve Peters a tough customer who could play in the halves or in the centres with equal effectiveness was a key member of the Saints’ re-build after the ‘Dad’s Army’ years in the late 1970s and won his two winner’s medals in the 1984-85 Mal Meninga season.

James Roby handed over the plaque to a great round of applause.

Finally, the turn of a ‘Wizard’ from Auckland, the one and only Shane Cooper, whose on-field skills and captaincy will never be forgotten by those who saw him play in the late 80s and early 90s.

Shane won a John Player trophy, Lancashire Cup and Premiership final in the red vee vee and a large number of his team-mates from the latter triumph against Wigan at Old Trafford in 1993, including Paul Loughlin, Mike Riley and Alan Hunte were there to rekindle the memories.

His plaque was presented by Adam Fogerty, who Shane encouraged the Saints to sign from Halifax in 1994 and the pair became good friends.

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An extremely humble man, Shane was as you might expect a popular choice for the HOF and was later sought out by Eamonn McManus for a souvenir photo.

Shane was always a particular favourite when our future Chairman had a mere watching brief.

(Image: SHS)

And included in the knee-deep nostalgia: Anthony Sullivan, who had flown in from Sweden; Les Quirk and Paul Loughlin re-united, with the former recalling the [in]famous try against Hull that was so eloquently eulogised by Ron Hoofe; Co-host Tommy Frodsham, Dave Tanner, Mark Bailey, Dean Busby, Barry Ledger, Brian McGinn, Harry Pinner, Eric Chisnall, Roy Woods and Roger Grime, stalwarts from the Schools Rugby League, Academy Chief Steve Leonard…the list of familiar names seemed positively endless.

In this special year, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first St Helens RFC match.

The late Denis Whittle used to love these events often introducing them with the byline ‘misty eyed and knee deep in nostalgia.’

That phrase seemed to have a special poignancy. The general opinion was unanimous…’roll on next year’!