Barrie Ledger by Dave Dooley: The son of stalwart Eric Ledger, Barrie gained a reputation as a clinical finisher. He possessed great evasive skills and genuine pace. Additionally, he had sound positional play and was a reliable goal-kicker to boot! Barrie played for the St Helens Colts team in the 1980/81 season and graduated to sign professional forms. He made his first team debut on the 3rd of March 1982 in a home match which the Saints prevailed by 14 points to 4 over Featherstone Rovers. Barrie scored his first points for the club when scoring a neat try in the 13 points to 10 defeat at Leeds on November 6th 1982.
When Barrie 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. In his first full season (1982/83) Barrie crossed the line on 14 occasions and kicked 24 goals. This haul included a brace of touchdowns and two goals against Halifax and 8 goals in the defeat of Carlisle. His first hat-trick for the club came in the following season when a brilliant finishing performance against the `Wire` was augmented with 5 goals for a match total of 22 points out of a 37 points to 25 victory. Barrie finished the season with a very creditable 17 tries and the supporters could see real improvements in the fortunes of the club on the playing field.
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, Barrie and the Saints mounted their assault on the game`s prizes. Meninga`s presence inspired great confidence in the team and Barrie 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, Barrie netted 30 tries with some sizzling finishes which included hat tricks against Keighley, Hunslet and Barrow. In the match against Workington Town Barrie kicked 9 goals to illustrate his all round talents. Indeed when Clive Griffiths had moved on in the previous campaign Barrie must have relished the opportunity to demonstrate his goalkicking prowess on a more regular basis. Notwithstanding, the signing of Sean `dead-eyed Dick` Day restricted Barrie`s opportunities in this field. The final game of that famous campaign was the Premiership Final against Hull KR. In that particular game a sensational rampaging Meninga run was curtailed with a suicidal crash tackle by George Fairburn. From the resultant play-the-ball quick hands by Holding, Platt, Pinner and Peters created a perfect overlap for Ledger to round the Rovers` defence with consummate ease. That classic try typified Saints dazzling play in that era and became a flagship try for Barrie himself. In the last minute of the match Barrie made it a brace following a break by Neil Holding and a timely overhead pass from substitute Shaun Allen to storm in unopposed from thirty yards out. That final touchdown was Barrie`s thirtieth of the season and confirmed his position at the top of the Saints tryscoring charts.
The following season was very much an "after the Lord Meninga`s Show" affair. Some inconsistent form eventually triggered the departure of the popular Billy Benyon as coach and heralded the arrival of Alex Murphy as the new coach. Matters did not improve greatly as Saints suffered a six match losing streak in the New Year of 1986 before finishing the campaign with 13 straight league victories. Barrie`s return in this turbulent campaign was 17 tries with braces against Dewsbury, Hull KR, Featherstone Rovers and Oldham.
Barrie was a mature winger throughout the 1986/7 season and had developed one of the best body swerves in the game. In the most one-sided game ever to be seen at Knowsley Road Barrie scored an absolute corker as he evaded three Carlisle tacklers and outpaced a few more for a scorching 70 yards try. He added another three tries as Saints prevailed by 112 points to nil in the Lancashire Cup tie. In that season Barrie missed only one match and unsurprisingly finished top of the club`s appearances and tryscoring charts with 23 touchdowns from 44 outings. Although the club continued its winning streak in the league up to Boxing Day and played some lovely football the trophy cabinet remained empty as the old foe seemed to buy up every big name going and kick-start their dominance of the British game for the next decade. The agony of the 1987 Challenge Cup Final against Halifax was deeply felt as the chance of a Wembley success slipped away from the grasp of Barrie and the rest of his contemporaries.
The signing of Les Quirk and emergence of young speedsters in the shape of Kevin McCormack and David Large brought real competition for wingers` jerseys at Knowsley Road. By the end of the campaign though Barrie seemed to be hold of the number two slot having played 16 successive matches starting with a hat trick in the 64 points to 2 demolition of Hull and ending with three tries in four matches. However, the strategists at Knowsley Road had determined that the Premiership Final defeat against Widnes at Old Trafford was deemed to be Barrie`s final outing for the Saints and he was duly shipped to Leigh in the summer.
Barrie Ledger, the finished article, was a genuine winger with all the attributes - pace, subtle evasion, positional play and clinical finishing. He played 214 matches for the Saints and his 112 tries indicates his value to the team at the time. In the 1985/6 season Barrie was rewarded with two Great Britain caps. This is really a true indication of his stature in the game at the time.
Barrie Ledger by Alex Ser vice
Signed from the St.Helens Colts team on 12 February 1981, Barrie Ledger soon showed why he is rated as one of the best home-grown wingers ever to play for the club. A natural footballer, great pace was his main weapon, yet he could beat his opponent in a variety of ways, using swerve, sidestep and change of pace. He also had the ability to draw defenders to him and then kick in-field towards the posts, leaving the cover flat-footed, before picking up and scoring under the posts. Barrie would also score some baffling tries when, seemingly surrounded by his opposing winger, centre and full-back in limited space, he would put the ball down without anyone laying a finger on him! He was also a very competent tackler and is remembered as the man who came from nowhere to down Leigh’s John Henderson when a try looked an absolute certainty, during the 1987 Challenge Cup Semi-Final at Central Park. If need be, he could kick goals too! Barrie inherited much of his ability from his father Eric, who also played on the wing for the Saints in the 1950s. Despite some exhilarating tries, the young Ledger had to endure some disappointments early on, such as the 16-0 defeat by Warrington in the 1982 Lancashire Cup Final at Central Park. Ledger scored a superb try at rain-soaked Knowsley Road against Wigan in the Third Round of the Challenge Cup, only for the Saints to lose 7-16 in front of a huge 20,007 crowd. The 1984/85 season saw Ledger as one of the most dangerous wingers in the British game, as the Saints lifted the Lancashire Cup and Premiership Trophy, the latter in a classic contest at Elland Road, Leeds, where opponents Hull KR were blown away 36-16 by some brilliant attacking football. Barrie scored two cracking tries both show-casing his searing pace. The attacking tradition was carried on under Coach Alex Murphy with the Saints scorching a trail to Wembley in 1987, with Ledger making 44 appearances during the campaign, scoring 23 tries. Yet luck deserted the Saints at Wembley against Halifax, when the side failed to produce the sparkling football of the previous rounds and were beaten by the more experienced side, with Ledger getting few chances to shine. He went on to score a try in the 1988 Premiership Final for St.Helens against a rampant Widnes side at Old Trafford, when an injury-hit Saints’ side were belted 38-14. It was to be his last for the club, before his transfer to Leigh in 1988/89. A Lancashire and Great Britain representative, with two Test Matches against Australia under his belt in 1986, he remains one of the most entertaining wingers ever to wear the red vee simply unstoppable on his day!
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