Halifax star was in historic final

By Shelley Dyer

RUGBY league legend John Thorley has died suddenly at his home, aged 78.

The Halifax star was among the Great Britain team to win the first world cup and he took part in rugby league’s most famous challenge cup replay at Odsal Stadium.

Mr Thorley was born in Mountain Ash, Wales, where he first got involved in rugby union playing for Neath and Glamorgan.

He moved north in 1952 to start his rugby league career playing for Halifax.

He briefly returned to Wales a few months later to marry teacher Avona who then joined him in Halifax.

The prop forward spent nine years at the club. But the two biggest games of his career both happened in 1954.

He was among the Halifax team watched by 100,000 supporters at Odsal Top when they played Warrington in the challenge cup final replay. The crowd broke every attendance record in the book.

Mr Thorley also broke another record in Halifax for playing the most consecutive games at the club.

That same year he played for the winning Great Britain side that met France in the first ever rugby league world cup final in Paris. He also played for Wales.

After leaving Halifax he went to play for Dewsbury. But his career fittingly ended at Thrum Hall when Dewsbury played Halifax.

His wife said after he stopped playing he became an keen supporter of Halifax.

“Whether they won or lost he was still an avid supporter. He used to go and watch them every weekend with his grandson.”

He also took up golf and was a member of West End Golf Club for more than 30 years.

Mr Thorley was also involved in the Welsh Past Players organisation.

He was deputy churchwarden at Halifax Parish Church where his funeral is expected to be held.

Both Mr Thorley and his wife fell in love with the south of France and spent a lot of time over there.

They had returned last week from an eight-week break there.

Mr Thorley died at his home in Wheatley on Tuesday after enjoying a day in the garden.

He leaves his wife, children Steven and Anna and grandchildren, Daniel, Matthew, Luke, Gavin, Michael and Nicholas.