Dave Craven: A special evening to celebrate lives of ‘Roger and Sully’

Roger Millward.

Roger Millward.

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WE are barely halfway through 2016 and it is already being remembered as the year the world lost so many memorable faces, famous characters and much-loved icons.

From the shock news that David Bowie had died in January, the list of celebrity deaths has risen at a remarkable rate.

From music to film and TV we have seen Prince, Alan Rickman, Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood all pass while sport has lost “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali and Johan Cruyff, one of football’s finest ever talents.

However, rugby league has not escaped untouched either.

It saw two of its finest ever exponents, legendary figures Mick Sullivan and Roger Millward, lose their lives just a few weeks apart.

Sullivan, who made a record-breaking 46 Test appearances for Great Britain and was twice the world’s costliest player, died aged 82, on April 5.

‘Roger the Dodger’, the brilliant former Hull KR and Lions half-back from Castleford, followed soon after on May 2, aged 68.

Much was written and spoken about the two greats after their sad passing and it is no surprise much work has been carried out since to rightly honour the two Hall of Famers.

Dewsbury-born winger Sullivan was a World Cup winner with Great Britain in 1954, at the age of 20, and again in 1960.

He played for Huddersfield, Wigan – with whom he won the Challenge Cup in 1958 and 1959 – St Helens and York.

Millward, in 406 appearances for Rovers, scored a club-record 207 tries and kicked 607 goals.

Of course, most memorably, in his last appearance for them and as player-coach, he defied a broken jaw to guide the Robins to a 10-5 victory over city-rivals Hull FC in the 1980 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

As a stand-off, he represented Great Britain on 29 occasions and played a key role in the second and third Test victories over Australia that saw the 1970 Lions secure the Ashes

The pair have been mourned but rightly celebrated, too, with the latest chance to do this coming on Tuesday night at a commemorative dinner hosted by Rugby League Cares Reunions.

It takes place at the Willerby Manor Hotel near Hull and will be attended by the families of Millward and Sullivan, as well as a host of special guests, including contemporaries of the two legends and current players.

Fellow Hall of Famers Alex Murphy, Billy Boston, Malcolm Reilly and Garry Schofield will attend and be invited by Ray French, who will host the event, to share their memories of “Roger and Sully”.

Rare video footage of the two players in action will also be shown, as will photographs from throughout their remarkable careers, while many of the current Hull KR side will be there, too. Tickets are still available at £40 and anyone interested in attending a unique event should contact Katie Irwin on Katharine.Irwin@rlcares.org.uk

Proceeds from the dinner will be shared between the Rugby League Cares Reunions programme, which helps former players stay connected with the sport and provides assistance to players who are enduring hardship, illness and distress, and the Hull KR Community Trust.

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