Born in Sydney, Australia, on the 24th June 1924 Brian Eyrl Bevan was to become one the greatest players ever to grace the world of Rugby League. Although blessed with extraordinary pace and skill you may be forgiven for mistaking Bevan for anything other than a rugby player. With a slight frame, balding head of hair and heavily bandaged knees, he resembled anything but the stereotypical rugby great. But the number of records the Australian still holds today is proof enough of his phenomenal talent.
Bevan arrived in England in 1946 and on the recommendation of Bill Shankland attended trials at Leeds and Hunslet, but was turned down on both occasions before approaching Warrington. The Cheshire club were willing to give him a trial in the ‘A’ Team in November 1946 and he took his opportunity, scoring a try and impressing the club enough to warrant a first team opportunity and a permanent contract at Wilderspool.
Over the course of the following sixteen years at Warrington, Bevan established himself as a legend in the game. It took him just four years to surpass the club’s all time try scoring record of 215, a figure which had taken the previous holder, Jack Fish, 13 seasons to achieve. He finished as the top scorer in English rugby league on no less than five occasions and in the 1952/53 season touched down 72 times, the second highest return in rugby league history.
But Bevan’s success should not only be gauged in personal achievements. He was also at the heart of an unprecedented run of success for the Warrington club which included three Championships, two Challenge Cups, six Lancashire League titles and a Lancashire Cup.
Nevertheless, his try scoring record is phenomenal. Bevan managed to score a hat-trick of tries in a single game on 100 separate occasions during his time at Warrington. He also holds the club record for scoring seven tries in a single game, a feat he achieved on two occasions. Probably his most impressive achievement and the greatest testimony to his extraordinary ability is the world record of 796 tries he scored from just 688 games. A feat which is even more remarkable when you consider the second highest ever try scorer (Billy Boston) managed 571.
In 1988 Brian Bevan was one of just nine players inducted into the UK’s first ever Rugby League Hall of Fame. The Australian Rugby League followed suit and recognised Bevan’s achievements and impact on the game in 2005 when they inducted him into their own Rugby League Hall of Fame. A lasting tribute to Brian Bevan can be found outside Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones stadium where a statue, which was first erected on a traffic island in the middle of the town in 1993, now proudly stands.