Horace Grainger

Horace Grainger
Horace Grainger
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HORACE GRAINGER, who was the most expensive rugby league player of his time when he moved between two Yorkshire teams for a transfer fee of £2,000, has died aged 84.

He was a versatile athlete playing both football and rugby, known as a sporting gentlemen who upheld traditional values.

He first showed promise as a sprinter when he worked for the railways and ran for Doncaster Plant Works Athletics Club winning many medals and trophies. It was his speed which later made him such an accomplished football and rugby player.

The family was immersed in sport, his brother Colin was an England international footballer in the 1950s playing for a number of clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers, before retiring and becoming a professional singer.

Mr Grainger was born in the village of Ryhill, near Wakefield. He was the middle of five children born to Daniel, who was a coal miner, and Lily Grainger.

He was educated locally at the village primary school and then Felkirk Secondary Modern School. When he left he worked in the brickworks at Monckton Colliery, later moving to the railways.

In 1949 he was called up for National Service serving with the King’s Own Light Infantry where he was battalion boxing champion and football captain.

While working for the railways at the age of 22 he was sought by Burnley Football Club, then one of the country’s most successful teams, but he never played for the first team and eventually moved to Chesterfield where he spent two seasons, but never settled.

He was uncertain what to do next until his cousin Jack encouraged him to join Eastmoor Amateur Rugby League Club, Wakefield, one of the oldest amateur clubs.

There he played on the wing and almost immediately he was talent scouted by both Wakefield and Dewsbury, choosing the latter club. It was after a couple of seasons with them that in 1958 Hunslet paid £2,000 for him to transfer to them making him the most expensive rugby league player of the time.

He later played for Bradford Northern before retiring in 1964.

But sport was in his blood and he went on to fill a number of roles in both rugby and football.

He wanted to help younger players so trained at Lilleshall to be a coach and joined Grove Dreadnoughts in the Wakefield League. He also qualified as a soccer referee in the Wakefield League until he gave it up in the 1970s.

About the same time Burnley asked him to be their east talent scout, a post he thoroughly enjoyed until he gave that up in the 1970s. He was also a director of Bramley RL club in the 1970s and 1980s, until he was poached by Hunslet to be their ground director at the time they were playing at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United.

At Bramley he became representative on the Yorkshire County Rugby League committee, a position he was allowed to continue when he moved to Hunslet, and in the mid 1980s he reached the pinnacle of his career when he was elected president for a year.

Mr Grainger was married to his wife Mabel for 58 years. They lived in the same street in Ryhill but met seriously in 1951 after a village “hop”. On their way home youths were throwing fireworks and one fell on her. A “gallant lad” as she described him, rushed forward to brush it off her clothes then walked her home.

Mr Grainger is survived by his wife, his daughter Anne, son Howard and grandsons George and Henry. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, March 13, at 11am, at Kettlethorpe Crematorium.