|Alan Scott by SHS |
In the 1960s and 1970s in particular, the top rugby league clubs would be sending out directors to watch players who they thought would be genuine assets in the professional code. Saints had a particularly good record in this respect, with the likes of the 1966 Challenge Cup final back-row being comprised of John Warlow, Ray French and John Mantle. All union converts. Indeed, the St. Helens club wanted to attract big names to put in its shop window and keep crowd interest alive. It is well known that the Board tried on several occasions to secure the signature of Barry John and Gareth Edwards, who came pretty close to turning at different times.
Some union players had trials in the A team; in one instance, on the recommendation of a person from Scotland [Hawick], a particular player was given the chance to shine straight away, with a trial in a full-blown league match, against Batley on 10th January 1970. In the club programme, the new face was described as being as fast as Vollenhoven at his peak. Quite a compliment! It did add interest to what was a cold night in January against opposition who were not expected to pose much of a threat for the two league points.
Saints won 22-9 and Dave Dooley recalls that the match itself was relatively mediocre, remembered principally for goal kicks: three placed and two dropped from full-back John Walsh and a rare goal from scrum-half Jeff Heaton. Les Jones started the game on the bench so that the new winger could be assessed. Les came on as a substitute in the second half and, suitably fired up after sitting in the freezing dugout, scored a fine try!
So what of the identity of the mystery player? In the preceding Board meetings, the player was discussed and the name in question was Alan Scott, from Hawick. Some forty years later, Alan tells us that he was essentially a sprinter and had not played rugby since leaving school. He was actually given the idea of having a trial with a League club by another star of the day, Mike Murray, the flying winger from Barrow
The Minutes of a Board meeting, on 13th January reveals the fate of Saints Flying Scotsman: Mr. S. Ince and Mr. T. Ashcroft reported on the First Team match v. Batley, it was agreed to thank Alan Scott for attending for trial but to take no action with regards to signing. And so the fate of another A N Other was sealed! Yet Alan Scott subsequently went on to thrive in athletics back home in Hawick. [the faster than Vollenhoven tag now makes sense!] An article in the Hawick News [3rd December 2004] gave details of his career as a sprinter, with success in the Jedburgh Games and Powderhall events. Alan also became prominent as an athletics coach of extremely high standing, too! He has also been a butcher for fifty years, working at JA Waters and Sons Family Butchers in Selkirk.