Kelly recalls where it all started as World Cup looms

PICTURE FROM THE PAST: Wakefield schoolboys make their mark

RECOGNISE that big strapping lad on the right of this week's Picture from the Past? Or the strangely familiar face of the kid on the left?

All four boys were preparing to play for Yorkshire at under-16 and under-13 level back in 1977 and, for two of them, the matches were important stages in what would become accomplished professional careers.

The player on the right will also have an important role in the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup as coach of Ireland, not that 15-year-old loose forward Andrew Kelly of

St Thomas-a-Beckett School, Wakefield could have imagined back then where his chosen sport would take him.

"I have some great memories of my junior career and playing for my county is right up there," said Kelly, who is now more familiar as coach of National League club Dewsbury Rams. "Sport in general was thriving at school level in the 1970s because that was before we got to the crazy situation where we wanted kids in this country to be non-competitive.

"That did a lot of damage because we started to lose sight of the basic principles that every person employs in both sport and in life."

Kelly went on to give great service as a player with Hull Kingston Rovers and Wakefield Trinity, for many years alongside the player on the left, Mark Conway, who had been selected from the Outwood Grange School for the Yorkshire under-13s.

Conway, a scrum-half, joined Wakefield from Leeds in

1987 and was a pivotal figure at Belle Vue for the next

six seasons. He is now a mortgage broker in West Yorkshire.

"I remember Mark well, of course, but can't recall many of the other players who were in the under-13s at the time," added Kelly.

"I do remember that Yorkshire under-16s also had players like Ellery Hanley and Henderson Gill while Lancashire featured Andy Gregory.

"There were some great players coming through the ranks, just as there are now."