Leeds Rhinos to reveal Headingley's long-awaited John Holmes statue

In 131 years of sporting history there has never been a statue at Emerald Headingley Stadium, until this weekend.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 6:00 am

A sculpture of the Leeds club’s greatest servant, local lad John Holmes will be unveiled on Sunday, in front of Headingley’s South Stand.

The bronze figure has been sculpted by Steve Winterburn, who created the rugby league statue which has been in place at Wembley Stadium since 2015.

Eight feet high, the statue is solid bronze and stands on a two-foot Yorkshire stone plinth, with a commemorative plaque.

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John Holmes celebrates Leeds' Wembley victory over St Helens in 1978. Picture by Steve Riding.
John Holmes celebrates Leeds' Wembley victory over St Helens in 1978. Picture by Steve Riding.

The cost of around £110,000 was raised partly by public subscription and through private donations via the Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

One of the club’s all-time greats, Holmes, from Kirkstall, made his Leeds debut as a 16-year-old in 1968.

A one-club man until he hung up his boots in 1990, Holmes’ record of 625 appearances for Leeds - which included 19 finals, all but - is unlikely ever to be broken.

Though he gave up goal kicking relatively early in his career, only three players have scored more points for Leeds than Holmes’ 1,554.

A full-back and later stand-off, Holmes played for Yorkshire, England and Great Britain and was a World Cup winner in 1972.

A member of one of Leeds’ most successful sides, in the late 1960s and throughout the 70s, he died, aged 57, in 2009.

Former teammates and opponents, along with members of Holmes’ family, have been invited to this weekend’s unveiling.

Fans are also welcome to attend.

Phil Caplan, chairman of Rhinos’ heritage committee, said: “It is an historic moment for Emerald Headingley to have its first statue, which will act as a focal point for all fans.

“To have the ultimate local – and reluctant - hero looking out over Kirkstall, where he came from, could not be more appropriate, fitting and poignant.”

Admission to the ceremony will be via Gate E on St Michael’s Lane, from 9am.

Car parking is not available because of a Yorkshire cricket fixture at the stadium on Sunday.

The official unveiling will be performed by Holmes’ long-time Leeds captain David Ward, at 10am.

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