Hunslet Hawks mourn loss of Thompson

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ONE of Hunslet rugby league’s most “remarkable” sons has died, aged 85.

Cec Thompson signed for Hunslet in 1948 and made 96 appearances in five seasons, before joining Workington.

He also had a brief spell with Barrow from 1960-62 and played twice for Great Britain.

At the end of his playing career Thompson studied for A Levels at college in Huddersfield, funding his education through a window cleaning business.

He then attended Leeds University, where he became a driving force behind the fledgling student rugby league.

Thompson went on to a teaching career in South Yorkshire and was later appointed as a head of department at a leading school in Derbyshire.

Hunslet stalwart Harry Jepson – who is now president of Leeds Rhinos – said Thompson, who was one of the sport’s first black stars, “made a success of his life on the rugby league field and off it”.

He added: “When he came to Hunslet – we signed him after seeing him play in a workshop competition – he couldn’t really read or write, but he ended up as head of economics at Chesterfield Grammar School.

“He did his school certificate and then got a degree at Leeds University.

“He was a great leader of rugby league in universities.

“He was a thoroughly nice, remarkable man.

“He was a very determined person and a very good player – a tremendous tackler.

“He had a very good career at Workington.

“He played at Wembley in 1958 and was very popular up there.

“He didn’t know much about the game when he started, but he developed into a very fine second-row forward – and one of the first black men to play for Hunslet and for Great Britain.”

Jepson said Thompson’s funeral will take place at Chesterfield Crematorium on Tuesday, at 2.10pm.

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