Obit: Neighbouring clubs mourn RL hero Eyre

NEIGHBOURS LEEDS Rhinos and Hunslet are mourning the death of one of the city's rugby league heroes of the 1950s and 60s, Ken Eyre.

Leeds forward Ken Eyre during the 1968 Watersplash Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
Leeds forward Ken Eyre during the 1968 Watersplash Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Eyre, who was 76, made 268 appearances for Hunslet from 1958-1966 and played in the 44-22 defeat by St Helens in the 1959 Championship final at Bradford’s Odsal Stadium when he was just 18.

He was a Yorkshire Cup winner for Hunslet against Hull KR at Headingley in 1962 and featured for the Parksiders in the classic 1965 Challenge Cup final when they lost 20-16 to Wigan.

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He was capped by Great Britain against New Zealand the same year.

Ken Eyre. PIC: Hunslet RLFC

Eyre crossed the river to join Leeds for a £5,950 fee at the start of the 1966-67 season, but suffered a fractured arm on his debut in a home win over Wigan on September 17.

He was back at Wembley in 1968, playing at prop in the Loiners’ famous 11-10 Watersplash final victory over Wakefield Trinity.

The following season Eyre was a member of only the second Leeds team to win a Championship final, wearing the No 10 jersey when the Headingley outfit pipped Castleford 16-14 at Odsal.

He made 121 appearances for Leeds and won every available honour, having been a member of the victorious 1968 Yorkshire Cup final team against Castleford at Belle Vue.

His brother Albert, who joined Leeds from Keighley, played alongside him in Leeds’ pack in the Challenge Cup and Yorkshire Cup triumphs.

Ken Eyre left Leeds in 1970 to join Keighley.

Phil Caplan, chairman of Rhinos’ heritage committee, described Eyre as key figure in Leeds’ great teams of the late 1960s.

He said: “Ken was a massive part of the success Leeds had at the start of their second golden era.

“He was the ideal experienced head in the pack that coach Roy Francis was looking for to bring on his young side.

“His performances at Wembley in 1968 and Odsal, winning the Championship, a year later were of the kind every successful side needs; selfless, tough and never shirking.

“He, along with his brother, was the south Leeds core of the side at the time and he never lost his passion for both the Loiners and Hunslet.

“He will be sorely missed at both clubs’ reunions.”