|Billy Gore by SHS |
Gore played in the second row at Featherstone Rovers, a tough assignment at the best of times! The St. Helens Newspaper [30-11-1943] summed it up with the following headlines: Saints at Featherstone. Scratch side does its best. The [unknown] match reporter gave us some clues as to the origins of Saints’ new back-rower: “Jack Gore’s son came in the second row and Atkinson a Wigan boy, took the loose forward position. Atkinson played a very good game indeed, and as he will be available for future matches the club will be able to make use of him. Gore did very well, but lacks professional experience. Anyhow, Norman Thompson, Gore and Atkinson gave such support to the front row as to enable them to beat Featherstone’s forwards in the battle for possession, and this helped to keep the score down”.
Some detective work was needed to ascertain the details behind this particular player. We must not forget that he played his sole game for the Saints during the war, when various restrictions were not necessarily imposed. The key to the mystery is that it says in the local press match report that he was Jack Gore’s son. Jack was a Welsh rugby union international flanker, who played for his home-town team Blaina as a flanker, before going north to join Salford [125 apps 1925-28]. Having made his debut for the Red Devils against the Saints, he became a very proficient back-rower, excelling at loose-forward and duly became an international in both codes. A publican, Jack was later transferred to Wigan, where he played a further 109 times, scoring 17 tries.
Jack’s son Billy was also born in Blaina before the family moved to Salford, where they remained at least until 1939, as that year’s census returns tell us. At some point, the family did move back to Wales, however. Yet Billy did play his solitary game for the Saints at the age of twenty four, against Featherstone Rovers at Post Office Road. Was it because he was stationed near there? Or did somebody know him and they took him along with the rest of the team? Who knows?
Billy’s further rugby career saw him playing for Newbridge as a hooker and he became, like his father, a Welsh rugby union international. He played three matches in 1947, against Scotland, France and Ireland. He then signed for Warrington, although he does not seemed to have played many matches for the Wires. The web tells us that Billy worked as a foundryman whilst playing for Newbridge; kept a pub; was a councillor; a strong labour Party member; Chairman of Gwent County Council and was Mayor of Nantyglo. Perhaps his one appearance for the ‘other code’ may have escaped his CV after the war, but his story is quite a fascinating one nonetheless!
Billy passed away in Abergavenny in 2010 at the grand old age of ninety. His Welsh Rugby Union player number is 546. His father`s is 370.