FORMER Castleford Tigers star Tony Dean has died at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer.
Dean played for Castleford between 1969 and 1973 before going on to coach at Wakefield Trinity for two years in the 1980s,
Lee Robinson, club historian at Wakefield Wildcats, said: “Tony had a great personality as a coach, generally full of humour as well as encouragement for the youngsters at the club and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
“Tony was on the Trinity coaching staff for eighteen months in the 1980s and a very popular coach he was, too.”
He played for Castleford, Hunslet, Batley and Hull FC as a crafty, no-nonsense scrum-half, earning a RL Challenge Cup winners medal with Hull in 1982, where he partnered Trinity Hall of Fame member David Topliss at half-back in the classic Cup Final replay against Widnes at Elland Road, Leeds.
“He joined Trinity’s coaching staff in the summer of 1985 as Len Casey’s assistant. Trinity were in the Second Division at the time and Casey and Dean guided them to promotion in fine style, finishing in third place behind Leigh and Barrow. During the 1985-86 season, as well as being Casey’s assistant he coached Trinity’s A team to Yorkshire Cup final success, defeating Hull A 20-0.
“Youngsters Bill Conway and Gary Spencer blossomed under his coaching throughout the season as the team also finished sixth in the league. Just before the 1986-87 First Division programme started, Len Casey shocked the club by accepting Hull FC’s offer of head coach. He wanted Dean as his assistant, but Tony decided to stay behind and take the first team coaching role on at Belle Vue for the First Division campaign. Ironically, Dean’s first match as head coach was away at Hull against his old “boss”, culminating in a 6-12 loss.
“It did not get any easier with Widnes and Castleford away in the next two games. Trinity’s squad was not strong enough and by December Trinity found themselves at the bottom of the league, well adrift from everyone else with one draw and 11 defeats in his first 12 league games. Cup victories over Batley and amateurs Millom were his only successes, along with a draw at home to Barrow, and he was relieved of his coaching duties in early in December 1986, just three months into his tenure, with an overall record of 16 matches coached, two wins, one draw and 13 defeats.
“After a break from the game he did, eventually, join Len Casey at Hull FC, who yet again resigned leaving Tony in full charge of Hull FC for a few games in 1988.
“Everyone at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats sends their condolences to Tony’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
His funeral will take place at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Ackworth on Friday, August 1, from 1pm.