Geoffrey Pimblett by Dave Dooley: I first came across Geoff Pimblett when he arrived at Grange Park Technical School in the mid-1960s as a fresh-faced teacher of History. There must be some kind of fountain of eternal youth close to Broadway as `Sir Geoffrey` didn`t seem to age through the following fifteen or so years during which he became one of Saints` all time great full backs and captains. The very same `secret spring` could also explain why Geoff became a `lifer` at the same school for the rest of his professional career.
In the late sixties I recall Geoff playing captain and centre up at Moss Lane and gaining representative honours for Lancashire RU. He was famed for his nimble feet, a fine side step and a good tactical, attacking rugby brain. He signed professional forms on the 7th. of January, 1971 and made his debut as substitute in the away match against Whitehaven on the 27th of February 1971, when Saints emerged victors by 15 points to 8. His first start in the line up was in the following match against Featherstone Rovers when Geoff played at stand off. His utility value was realised almost immediately as `Pimmer` played four games in the centres before donning the number one jersey for the first time in the Good Friday derby win over Wigan at Central Park by 9 points to 6. By the end of the campaign Geoff was playing a vital role in the 1971 Championship Final over Wigan at Station Road, Swinton. His points contributions during the next few seasons remained relatively low as the goal-kicking role was mostly attributable to captain Kel Coslett. In his first full season (1971-72) Geoff established himself as almost a permanent feature in the number one Saints` jersey.
The eight and half seasons of Geoff`s Sainthood were punctuated by finals, winners medals and man of the match awards. Geoff indeed was the first player to be awarded the double Lance Todd Trophy and the Harry Sunderland Trophy in the 1976 RL Challenge Cup Final and the 1977 Premiership Final respectively. The latter victory over Warrington by 32 to 20 best illustrated Geoff`s forte for linking up with the attack scoring a try and kicking 7 goals in the process. When Billy Benyon moved to Warrington at the end of the season Geoff was appointed Club Captain. Another outstanding performance I recall was the 1975 BBC Floodlit Trophy final win over Dewsbury. There was a magical moment in the game when Pimblett broke through from close to the Saints line the defence using a beautiful side step to send Roy Mathias racing down the Popular side Stand touchline for a cracking try. The era saw Saints playing some fantastic rugby. Unfortunately, the games witnessed poor attendances apart from big cup games and the traditional derbies.
A summary of Geoff`s winners` medals indicates just how hot Saints were at the time. Two Challenge Cup Finals, one Championship Final, two BBC Floodlit Trophy Finals, two Premiership Finals a member of the 1974/75 Championship winning team were amongst Pimblett`s impressive haul. The last honour demonstrates how important Geoff was to the team. That season Pimblett appeared in more matches than any other player as Saints ended the season nine points ahead of the opposition.
The end of his career coincided with a relative decline in the fortunes of the club. The 1978/79 season was far from glamorous for the Club however we had battled to the semi-final of the RL Challenge Cup eager to make amends after the loss to Leeds in the previous season`s Final. A string of poor results culminated in a 23 points to 3 loss away to Wakefield on April 1st. 1979. As the team were playing Wakefield in the RL Cup semi-final the following weekend the then coach Eric Ashton decided to drop Geoff Pimblett. Geoff immediately announced his retirement from the game. It was a move well received by the supporters who saw Pimmer being used as a bit of a scapegoat for the poor team form.
As well as winning two Lancashire caps Geoff won his only international cap playing for England against Wales on May 28th 1978 at Knowsley Road. Pimblett scored one try and kicked nine goals in the glorious St Helens sunshine as the Welsh were thrashed by a record margin of 60 points to 13.Geoff Pimblett is still sixth on the Club`s all time points scoring chart with 1388 points from 48 tries, 608 goals and 28 drop goals.
Even after his magnificent playing career had come to an end Geoff has maintained his link to the St. Helens Club. He was a founder member of, and still plays an active role in St. Helens Past Players Association and he is an integral part of the Saints Smart School.
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