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West Town Boys and Frank Whitcombe

Like a host of other youth Rugby League clubs, West Town Boys was a short lived organisation. Many such clubs struggled to establish any permanent roots as amateur rugby League remained in an almost continual state of flux whilst under the control of the professional governing body. However, the formation of the British Amateur Rugby League Association in 1973 provided a more stable platform from which the sport has gone on to flourish at recreational level. One of the few amateur Clubs to establish itself at a relatively early stage was Dewsbury Celtic and the West Town Boys, along with Sam, were fortunate to become part the club in the late 1950s. Originally known as Dewsbury Shamrocks, the Club was playing rugby football matches as early as 1879 and, apart from a spell trying out association football between the 1890s and 1910, has remained as one of the cornerstones of amateur Rugby League in Yorkshire ever since.

Frank Whitcombe will be best remembered for the eleven years he spent playing for Bradford Northern between 1938 and 1949. An uncapped rugby Union convert, he became a Rugby League international, representing Wales fourteen times and playing two tests for Great Britain against Australia on the 1946 tour. He was often referred to as ‘The Big Man’ and competed in three successive Wembley Challenge Cup finals between 1947 and 1949. His greatest performance on the sports highest domestic stage came when he took home the Lance Todd trophy in the 1948, despite the fact Northern lost 8-3 to Wigan. In doing so, he became the first ever player to win the award after being on the losing team. Another personal record came in the 1949 final when, just 29 days short of his 35th birthday, he become the oldest player to play in a Challenge Cup final. Four days later he retired and was awarded a bronze medal for his services to the game and to commererate his award the previous year.

Whitcombe went on to become director at Odsal and was included as one of Bradford’s Millennium Masters at the turn of the century.