Jeff Bawden

Jeff Bawden, 1923-2006

JEFF BAWDEN, one of Huddersfield's post-War greats, has died at his home in Cumbria. He was 82.

A strong, powerful and versatile back, Bawden started his rugby league career with Whitehaven amateurs Hensingham before signing professional forms with Huddersfield in 1943. He made his debut in the Yorkshire Cup against Hull at Fartown on October 23 that year and went on to make 243 appearances, scoring 1,303 points before retiring in 1952.

Bawden was a founder of the Huddersfield RL Players' Association Hall of Fame.

Bawden quickly established himself as Huddersfield's left winger and proved a deadly goalkicker. Bawden helped Huddersfield win the 1945 Challenge Cup in a two-legged final against Bradford Northern.

In the second half of the second leg at Odsal, Northern led 5-0 and felt they had the game won. But Bawden had other ideas. Following a scrum on the home line the ball went out to the left wing and Bawden was over for an unconverted try that gave Huddersfield a 10-9 edge on aggregate.

Ten minutes from full-time Northern's passing broke down and the Cumbrian cleverly dribbled the ball to the line for his second unconverted try for a 13-9 aggregate triumph.

Huddersfield played eight ties in that season's competition and Bawden provided 43 of their 83 points. The following season he amassed 239 points to top the league's scoring charts, while his total of 85 goals was second only to Dewsbury's Jimmy Ledgard, who landed 89.

In a match against Swinton he piled up 35 points from five tries and 10 goals as the Fartowners won 76-3. Two days later he scored 20 points in a 43-5 win over Barrow.

In 1946-47 he again topped the scoring charts with 246 points, finishing second in 1947-48 with 261 and third in 1948-49 with 221.

He earned a Championship winners' medal in 1948-9 and a runners-up medal the following season. He won Yorkshire League championships with Huddersfield in both those seasons and also played for them in the 1949 Yorkshire Cup final when they lost to Bradford.

A regular for Cumberland for seven years, Bawden proved his outstanding versatility by figuring at wing, centre, full-back and stand-off.

In his younger days Bawden was outstanding at three sports: at 13 he played rugby union for England Schoolboys against Wales; he later played football for Kells Boys' Club in Whitehaven; as well as his spell with Hensingham.

His footballing talents were recognised by Wolverhampton, one of the leading sides of the era, but he rejected their offer of trials to join Huddersfield, a move he never regretted.