Paul Forber by Dave Dooley: Paul was a St Helens lad through and through playing 11 seasons at Knowsley Road mostly in the second row. He was extremely powerful and forceful taking the ball forward. He always carried the ball into the opposition with maximum momentum and soon earned the nickname 'Buffer'. This energy and commitment often lifted the crowd and Paul soon became a firm favourite with the Saints "speckies". Paul also had plenty of speed in his youth and managed a total of 247 games in his career at Knowsley Road (49th on the all time list). He was signed from St Helens Colts in May 1981 as the Saints were undergoing a radical turnover in playing staff.
When Paul joined the Saints 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. His debut was very much a 'baptism of fire' as he lined up against one of the greatest ever teams to take to the rugby league field - the 1982 Australian Touring side. Saints were blitzed by 32 points to nil that day - a disappointed crowd slumped out of the ground having witnessed a gulf in class the likes of which had never been seen at Knowsley Road for a very long time. Paul was used once more as a substitute in his initial campaign in the 24 points to 13 league defeat at Hull in March 2003.
As a nineteen year old, he was used sparingly by coach Billy Benyon in the following season (1983/4) with just 6 more appearances. In three of the four starts that season Paul played as blind-side prop. Forber's first significant season in the first team came in the historic 'Meninga inspired' 1984/5 campaign. In the new year of 1985 Paul forced his name on to the team-sheet on a regular basis. His first points for the club came in the 56 points to 16 thrashing of Leigh (3/2/1985) when a powerful running display was rewarded with a brace of blockbusting tries. He repeated his two-try trick against Hunslet in April of the same year as Saints racked up another high score against the Yorkshiremen. Paul had mostly graduated to the second row but demonstrated his versatility in the 62 points to nil drubbing of Workington Town when he donned the number nine shirt!
That great season finished on a high for Paul as he came on as substitute in the 1985 Premiership Final as Saints outplayed Hull KR by 36 points to 16. After this season Paul was a regular in the Saints set-up for the rest of the decade. In 41 appearances in the 1986/7 season Paul crossed the line 11 times and was the power behind 25 successive league wins in the year of 1986. Paul was selected as substitute for the 1987 Challenge Cup Final against Halifax in which Saints lost out by one point. Forber's Wembley woes were repeated two years later when Saints were whitewashed by a Wigan team on the crest of a wave. Paul played at prop that day.
Between these lows came several great highlights for Paul. He demonstrated all his grit and determination when he helped the Saints defeat Leeds by 15 points to 14 in the 1988 John Player Trophy Final at Central Park, Wigan. In the 18 points to 8 away victory against Salford Paul yet again demonstrated his many talents when he landed two goals to sink the Red Devils. In this period Paul's fine play was rewarded when he was selected to play for Lancashire. The 1989/90 season was prolific in points terms for Paul as he netted a total of 48 from 11 tries and two goals. The haul included two tries in the 42 points to 26 home victory over Sheffield Eagles.
The mid-week Lancashire Cup semi-final against Wigan on October 10th 1991 saw Paul back to his rampaging best as Saints put a few ghosts to rest by defeating the old enemy by 28 points to 16. Paul contributed significantly with a signature 'power try' and capped it all with his one and only drop goal for the club! The crowd cheered and chuckled at this particular novelty showing the warmth and respect that this 100% Saint had in their affections. In the Lancashire Cup Final against Rochdale Hornets Paul was substitute and on hand to collect a well deserved winner's medal to add to his Premiership and John Player haul.
Paul's final game for the Saints came on a dreadful rainy night at Leigh when Saints went down by 11 points to 6 against the seemingly water-proof Leythers. Ultimately, this effectively robbed the Saints of the First Division Championship that season and was not the best of circumstances for Paul to bow out on Armistice Day 1992.
A statistical summary of his career at the Saints illustrates the importance of Paul Forber to the team. He is 49th on the all-time list of appearances for the club and is one of only 69 players to have scored 50 tries for the men from Knowsley Road (one of only 15 forwards to achieve this distinction). His total points haul of 215, places him equal 75th on this particular roll of honour - not bad for a second rower!
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