Christopher Arkwright by Dave Dooley: Rated by Neil Holding as the most talented player he had played with. Chris had rare qualities particularly in his playmaking and reading of the game. His family pedigree was impeccable with two previous generations having played for the Saints and Chris' Grandfather being the great 1920s legend Jack Arkwright. Chris was signed from the St Helens Colts team on the 6th of October 1978 and made his first team debut just two weeks later. When Chris joined the Saints the club were very much in a transitional period with a host of young junior talent and some experienced stalwarts in the twilight of their careers. The golden period of the seventies were coming to an end and the club's fortunes were about to decline in the early years of the 1980s. This proved to be a hard but valuable learning curve for the youngster.
Chris scored his first try for the club in the match against Leigh on the 3rd. of November, 1978 and then proceeded to score another try in the same match as Saints prevailed by 27 points to 20. He was soon demonstrating astute passing, a neat side-step and general mastery in the attacking line. Chris became easily adaptable to the centre, stand off or loose forward position. By the 1980/1 season he had become the club's top try scorer with 15 tries, a total indicative of the tough times the Saints were enduring at the time. This haul included braces against Salford and Oldham. The following season saw Chris sharing the same tryscoring honour with Roy Haggerty. At this point in his career Chris was mostly operating out of the centre position. His first hat trick for the club was in this season in the Lancashire Cup second round defeat of Barrow. The following campaign Chris netted another hat trick against Carlisle. At key points in his career Chris was plagued by injuries. The 1983/4 season was one such phase when Chris had to sit out the first half of the season returning to score 8 tries from 17 matches.
Chris and his contemporaries were rewarded for a hard apprenticeship in the 1984/5 season. The signing of Mal Meninga and Phil Veivers sent a tsunami of optimism through the town and filled the team with confidence for the 1984/5 campaign. Under the astute direction of coach Billy Benyon, Chris and the Saints mounted their assault on the game's prizes. Meninga's presence inspired great confidence in the team and Chris enjoyed his best ever season with the Saints. His first honour with the first team came in the momentous Lancashire Cup Final when a sparkling team performance defeated the old foe in their own backyard. In a season which saw Saints score 1267 points in all matches, Chris netted 10 tries with some sizzling finishes which included a hat trick against Leeds. He collected winners' medals in the Lancashire Cup Final and the Premiership Final. Moreover, he drove the backs and launched many an attack which resulted in tries galore for the Saints' backs.
1985 was certainly a golden year for Chris. He gained two Great Britain caps that year in the Test Series against New Zealand. A feature of those contests was the crisp passing from Chris. His timely intervention led to one of the greatest ever tries scored by GB as Joe Lydon finished off a brilliant length of the field passage of play.
With the departure of Harry Pinner, Chris was made captain of the club - a great accolade for this local lad but also great testimony to his leadership and general reading of the game. This further inspired Chris as he led the team brilliantly in the 1986/7 season. His support play was dynamic as he raced in for twenty tries. Chris started to operate much more from the loose forward berth. This haul included hat tricks against Halifax and Whitehaven and four braces - much more impressive though was his ability to set up play. As Captain Chris led out his hometown team for the 1987 Challenge Cup Final against Halifax the stage seemed set for a day of red and white smiles. It would have been a fitting climax to Chris' career but it was not to be as Saints lost by the odd point in 37.
The following season was very much a stop and start affair with Chris starting off in the stand off position until the arrival of Shane Cooper. A series of injuries restricted his appearances and prevented Chris from playing in the 1988 John Player Cup Final. Indeed after this campaign Chris only put on the Saints jersey on 13 occasions over the next two years. Nevertheless, Chris was still demonstrating his versatility and ability right to the end. His last try for the club came in the 19 points to 12 victory over Hull in January 1990 with Chris nipping in for a smart try whilst playing hooker!
Many Rugby League players would have been ecstatic to have gained two Great Britain caps, one England jersey and played for your county on four occasions. Those of us who watched Chris in the 1980s agree that even this impressive list of honours underestimates his true abilities and qualities.
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