In our latest Ultimate XV feature, we have an offering from one of Hoppers most famous sons in the shape of former Hoppers Colt, 1st XV Captain and Coach Steve Kerry. Known to everyone as “Kez”, he famously “crossed the divide” when he left PGRFC to sign for Salford RLFC. He broke into the Grasshoppers side In the mid 1980’s after leading the Colts to their 1984 Lancashire Cup win.
An accomplished goal kicker he smashed the first team points scoring record in 1988 before a year later switching codes to join Salford. In 1990 he led the “Red Devils” to the Second Division Championship, losing just one game all season.
In the Premiership final of that season, and in front of 50,000 at Old Trafford, Kez scored 17 points in a thrilling man-of-the-match performance to help the Red Devils beat Halifax 27-20. His point’s total of 423 for the season made him the top scorer in Rugby League ahead of a certain Jonathan Davies. He had further spells in league with Oldham, Huddersfield and Whitehaven before in 1996, he returned to his roots at PGRFC.
In his first season back the club narrowly missed out on promotion but a superb cup run took the club to the fifth round of the Pilkington Cup and the biggest date in the clubs history when it hosted giants Northampton at Lightfoot Green in front of a bumper crowd of over 3000. Having again broken the club’s points scoring record for a season, he then moved on to become Director of Rugby at Blackburn RUFC where he finished his career. He is also responsible for certain nicknames that the incumbents are unable to shake off!
Below is Kez’s selection and comments about those he has included. He has selected from his time in both codes and picked those players he thinks would have graced any rugby field.
1. Dave “Dai” Young
Played with Youngy at Salford strong fit and mobile,
2. Pete Carter
Never understood why anyone would want to play this position, but Pete is a great bloke and would fit into any team, great attitude, fit fast and did me a good deal on my conservatory!
3. Andy Ridehalgh
Great loyal Blackburn man, played at Sedgley Park for a bit, and could have played higher still. Great in the a scrum (what do I know!) and good at mopping up scruffy stuff
4. Steve Borthwick
Gave him his Hoppers debut when I was captain and he has just gone up from there …fantastic attitude and professional approach even then.. A real modern day pro
5. Wade Dooley
One of England’s best ever forwards, a Hoppers legend who brought the club into prominence
6. Glyn Dewhurst
Never saw Glyn have a bad game, fit strong and aggressive ….so difficult to leave the Ashton brothers , Mick Parker Peter Buckton ( Orrell ) out though.
7. Neil Leeming
Fast, good footballer, and the strongest player I’ve played with in either code.
8. Ellery Hanley/Roy Dransfield
Unable to separate ……Dranny was just a superb strong footballer, with a perceptive captains brain, taught me a lot about getting into players’ minds ! …..Ellery is the best player by far I have had the privilege to play against, could play in any position in either code, professional and brilliant
9. Ian Wright
No room for Dewi Morris or Matt Dawson, Wrighty was the best, his career was blighted with a knee problem and alas he died far too young. He had guile craft and a terrific pass and apart from Mick McHugh at Blackburn new all the songs for the bus on the way home
10. Shaun Edwards
Again not easy, would have picked Loughy but didn’t play with or against him (as far as I can remember) or Paul Grayson, but Shaun was an all-round superstar who I am sure would have transferred well to union. Played with him for lancashire rugby league and against at Wigan for Oldham/Salford. Fast clever and a great tactical brain
11. Jason Robinson
Played against him when I was at Salford on the wing, was like chasing a fly round a light bulb. So unpredictable, a nightmare to play against.
12. Va, aigaTuigamala
Played inside Jason Robison at Wigan was twice the size of me, great ball skills and a huge physical presence. Used to hammer you in the tackle then say sorry!
13. Jonathan Davies
Played in his debut when he switched codes to Widnes. .Fantastic speed great kicker, superb body skills, and a super guy to talk too
14. Martin Offiah
“ Chariots “ was just so quick and evasive and could bend like all great wingers around the corner flag to score in .
15. Steve Gibson
Australian I played with at Salford. He was an absolute nutter and one of the funniest (apart from Pikey of course) players ever. Great counter attacking long legged freak!
Coaches ………Dick Greenwood
Never wasted a word whilst both Malcolm Alden and Mick Hill were both great coaches and people.
Team manager The one and only John Crayston – Still believes Phil Crayston (his favourite boy not our Richard) will play for the British Lions one day!