John Stankevitch by Dave Dooley: John Stankevitch was born on the 6th. of November 1979 at Whiston hospital. He played amateur Rugby League for the Golborne Parkside ARL club where outstanding displays encouraged Saints to sign him up on the 7th. of February 1997. His first team debut was on the world stage as Saints met Melbourne Storm in the 2000 World Club Challenge Final - one of the most disappointing Finals that Saints have participated in.
John soon forced his way into the first 17 during that season with sound tackling, strong running and neat footwork. His nifty feet were in evidence in the 2000 Grand Final against Wigan when John made a superb break to set up a last minute try for Tim Jonkers as Saints retained the Super League Championship. His first points for the club came in the 50 points to 30 home win over the Huddersfield Giants that same season. In all John crossed the line five times in the 2000 campaign from 7 starts and 19 substitute appearances.
The following season saw John claim 15 starts and 12 substitute appearances as he developed his handling skills under the tutelage of Ian Millward. John was substitute on the night of the 'Bolton Blizzard' as Saints overcame Brisbane Broncos to lift the World Club Championship for the first time. He proceeded to score four tries that season and must have been disappointed to miss out on the seventeen that lifted the Challenge Cup aginst Bradford Bulls that season.
The 2002 season demonstrated the value of John Stankevitch to the Saints. He made 36 appearances out of the 37 matches that Saints played that season (he only missed the away league victory at Halifax), scoring five tries in the process. He was substitute in the Grand Final winning side that defeated Bradford Bulls by 19 points to 18 coming on the field to give a magnificent defensive display and help tire the Bradford defence with great mobility around the pitch.
The first match of the 2003 marked John's 100th appearance in a Saints' jersey. This occurred in the south of France where a rampant Saints defeated UTC by 70 points to 6 in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup. In a rich vein of trys-coring John picked up four tries in successive games during the peak holiday weeks of July and August. However, a spate of injuries towards the end of the campaign left the Saints' trophy cabinet empty. At the end of the season John picked up a career threatening arm injury against Wigan.
As a consequence John missed much of the first half of the 2004 season on the field, whilst undergoing intensive physiotherapy on his injured arm. Unfortunately, this meant that John missed out on the famous Challenge Cup run that led to the fantastic Final victory over Wigan in Cardiff sunshine. 'Stanky' returned to the fray and featured in most of the games to the end of the season, crossing the line on six occasions. However, suspensions and injuries left the Saints season fizzling out.
At the end of the 2004 campaign John's contract was not renewed and he found himself moving to his hometown club, Widnes. In his career at Knowsley Road, John Stankevitch has made 131 appearances scoring a total of 26 tries in the process.
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