Rugby League world mourning death of a ‘stalwart’

'PERFECT GENT': Former Castleford RL player Jack Hirst spent more than eight seasons with the club.
'PERFECT GENT': Former Castleford RL player Jack Hirst spent more than eight seasons with the club.
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Tributes have been paid to renowned rugby league prop forward Jack Hirst.

The former Castleford RLFC and Oulton Raiders player died aged 76 in the early hours last Friday after suffering renal failure.

Les Wigglesworth, 68, of Allerton Bywater, a former secretary of Oulton Raiders, said: “He was a great player and an absolute stalwart for Oulton Raiders and a much-loved friend to everybody.”

Mr Hirst, of Rothwell, leaves wife Margaret, sons Neil, 56, and John, 50 and five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

His son John – a former RL player with Hunslet, Keighley, Huddersfield and Oulton Raiders – said: “He was a tough old bloke and well-respected, a perfect gent. It was a family joke that wherever we went, somebody knew him. He was rugby mad and would go anywhere to watch a match.”

Mr Hirst’s illustrious rugby league career started at Hunslet in the 1950s before he was signed by Castleford, where he spent more than eight successful seasons.

He was part of the Castleford team that narrowly lost 7-5 to Widnes in the 1964 Challenge Cup semi final replay at Wakefield’s Belle Vue ground.

After leaving Castleford, he had brief spells at Wakefield, Bradford and Bramley before joining up with former team mate Ken Hindley – who was the Player Coach at Oulton Miners Welfare – now Oulton Raiders.

Mr Hirst was part of the Oulton team that won the Leeds & District Burton Cup in 1967. He coached West Grange Social Club in the Leeds & District Sunday League before returning to Oulton.

He was chairman at Oulton Raiders for a number of years and later made president. Oulton Raiders vice-chairman Geoffrey Rush said: “He was a smashing bloke who would help anybody.”

Mr Hirst’s family say all are welcome at his funeral service at 11am on Tuesday, October 30 at Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, followed by a wake at the nearby Hare and Hounds pub.