Jack Rennie


Date unknown.
18-02-1899 v Warrington
Broughton Rangers
34 (0)

Biography of Jack Rennie

Jack Rennie was a tough forward and a local lad who settled down well at the Saints. He played 34 matches between February 1899 and November 1902. The rugged tackler scored two tries for the Saints against Broughton Rangers and Leigh. Jack was a coal miner and general labourer and very much a Sutton lad. In 1911 he was living at 321 Mill Lane, Sutton, St Helens and the 1939 Census tells us that he was still residing in the same dwelling. Jack died in St Helens in June 1952 at the age of 76.

Dave Dooley

The family of Jack Rennie were delighted to receive his Heritage Certificate in 2022, presented by former Saints Jimmy Measures.

Pride and coincidences at a Heritage Certificate presentation in a rugby league stronghold.

Since the start of the 2019 Super League season, Heritage Number Certificates have been given out by Saints’ Heritage Society and St Helens RFC. On 3rd August 2022, a season ticket holder from Eccleston Hill in St Helens, who once played for the Saints’ B and C teams at Knowsley Road has received his grandad’s Heritage Certificate: #76 Jack Rennie.

A delighted Mike Rennie, together with his cousin Geoff Tasker, also a season ticket holder, was presented with his special family memento by former Saints second-rower Jimmy Measures at the Totally Wicked Stadium at pitch side. Mike also provided an image of his grandad, albeit in later life.

Jack Rennie was a miner from the Sutton district, whose elder brother James played for St Helens RFC in the amateur Rugby Union days. Sad to report that James, from whom great things were expected at club and county level, died tragically in an accident underground at Lea Green Colliery in 1892, aged just 21. In those far off days, working men had to forfeit a Saturday shift to play the game, leading to the breakaway three years later which enabled clubs to pay ‘broken time’ to its players, so they didn’t lose money.

Jack made his senior debut against Warrington in the Lancashire Senior competition at Knowsley Road when the Saints won 12-3 on 18th February 1899. A solid forward who helped his team-mates dominate the set scrums, he made 34 appearances overall with his last match a 0-23 defeat at the hands of Broughton Rangers on 29th November 1902. He also scored two tries. It should be noted that Jack played in four matches against Wigan and was never on the losing side.

As for grandson Mike, rugby league was in his DNA: “My Uncle Robert played for the famous local amateur team Uno’s Dabs and I used to watch the Saints from a young age,” he remembers. “We used to get the bus from Victoria Square to Knowsley Road. Dad wouldn’t take me to Wembley in 1953 and I had to listen to the match at my grandad’s house on the wireless, as they used to say. One of my best memories was to see the Great Britain v France match at Knowsley Road in 1957, when Glyn Moses was Man of the Match and Alan Prescott was the captain.”

Doing his apprenticeship as a colliery electrician, he attended the Mining School behind the old Central Station and the PE teacher was Tom van Vollenhoven. He later met another Saints’ star, Dick Huddart, who was a mechanical fitter at Sutton Manor Colliery [Number One Pit]. Mike later worked at UGB and Rockware before a final spell in the chemical industry in Widnes.

“I was a loose forward who played for the Town Schoolboys and for Saints’ C and B teams,” Mike recalls. “I started in the C team and my team-mates included the likes of Joe Robinson, Alan Whittle, Peter Gartland and Brian Hogan. The coaches were Albert Butler for the B team and Billy Boycott took the C team. I remember playing against Widnes St Pats at Naughton Park and Duggie Laughton was in their team, who later came to Saints. Family matters took precedence when I got my job at UGB and I had to give the game up, but I’ve scored tries at Knowsley Road as a schoolboy and B and C teamer, so some great memories.”

Geoff, whose son Paul was once a member of Saints’ Academy, has another amazing rugby league tale to tell, but one to file under the category of ‘what might have been.’ Before she was married, his mother Mary moved to Oldham where her sister had a shop. “It was in the 1930s,” says Geoff. “She met the son of former New Zealand rugby and athletic ‘great’ George Smith, who had signed for Oldham after the famous All Golds Tour in 1907-08. He worked in a local cotton mill and later became the club’s coach for a spell.”

George Smith [Junior], who like his father played both codes of rugby became engaged to Mary, although the war temporarily put their prospective marriage on hold. “He joined the RAF and became a Pathfinder in 62nd Squadron stationed in the Far East,” adds Geoff, “but he ended up a prisoner of war and, like so many, died in captivity.”

George Smith’s was Vice Captain on that inaugural New Zealand tour to Britain, having met two of the most influential movers and shakers, James Giltinan [Australia] and Albert Baskiville [New Zealand] beforehand. His presence as one of New Zealand’s most famous sporting figures gave the whole project great credibility. He played and scored twice as the All Golds defeated Saints 24-5 at Knowsley Road on 30th October 1907, although he didn’t take part in the second fixture in St Helens in the New Year.

An Inductee into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame [1995], in 2002 a George Smith Medal was struck to be awarded to the Player of the Series between Great Britain and Australia. Before the match against St Helens [the last ‘tour’ match at the old ground], the Kiwis continued their tradition of visiting the cottage which was the birthplace of their most famous Prime Minister, Richard Seddon. “Ironically, it is just over the road from where I live now,” says Mike Rennie. “On the other side from our house is the former site of Grange Park School, who had two Saints’ ‘greats’ on the staff: Steve Llewellyn and Geoff Pimblett. Another coincidence.”

Both Mike Rennie and Geoff Tasker are proud of their grandfather’s achievements and were delighted when Jimmy Measures, replete in a Saints’ Heritage jersey was on hand to ‘do the honours.’ “It was a fitting occasion to mark the 700th player,” says Adrian Lawrenson of Saints’ Heritage Society. “So many interesting stories and unexpected family connections such as this one have come to light since the process first started in 2019 - all adding to the rich heritage of our club as we approach the 150 celebrations next year.”


Season (Official Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches
1898~99 0 0 0 4
1899~00 2 0 0 27
1900~01 0 0 0 2
1902~03 0 0 0 1
TOTALS:2 0 0 34
Season (Other Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches


18th Feb 1899 1
8 Warrington L H 12 3 VIEW
8th Apr 1899 2
9 Morecambe L H 7 2 VIEW
15th Apr 1899 3
9 Runcorn L A 8 11 VIEW
20th Apr 1899 4
9 Stockport L H 13 10 VIEW
2nd Sep 1899 5
12 Warrington L H 3 3 VIEW
23rd Sep 1899 --
12 Lancaster* Fr H 17 3 VIEW
30th Sep 1899 6
12 Broughton Rangers L A 14 0 1 VIEW
7th Oct 1899 7
12 Rochdale Hornets L A 0 7 VIEW
14th Oct 1899 8
12 Wigan L H 5 0 VIEW
21st Oct 1899 9
12 Stockport L H 17 3 VIEW
28th Oct 1899 10
12 Widnes L A 3 5 VIEW
4th Nov 1899 11
12 Wigan L A 6 0 VIEW
11th Nov 1899 12
12 Salford L H 8 6 VIEW
25th Nov 1899 13
12 Stockport L A 6 3 VIEW
2nd Dec 1899 14
12 Tyldesley L H 26 3 VIEW
9th Dec 1899 15
12 Oldham L H 17 14 VIEW
23rd Dec 1899 16
12 Warrington L A 11 0 VIEW
25th Dec 1899 17
12 Broughton Rangers L H 4 0 VIEW
26th Dec 1899 18
12 Millom L A 8 10 VIEW
30th Dec 1899 19
12 Tyldesley L A 14 3 VIEW
1st Jan 1900 20
12 Leigh L H 26 0 VIEW
6th Jan 1900 21
12 Swinton L A 0 0 VIEW
13th Jan 1900 22
12 Millom L H 7 2 VIEW
20th Jan 1900 23
12 Rochdale Hornets L H 6 0 VIEW
27th Jan 1900 --
12 Birkenhead * Fr A 15 0 VIEW
17th Feb 1900 24
12 Runcorn L A 0 9 VIEW
24th Feb 1900 25
12 Runcorn L H 3 2 VIEW
27th Feb 1900 26
12 Leigh L A 0 0 VIEW
3rd Mar 1900 27
12 Oldham L A 6 35 VIEW
10th Mar 1900 28
12 Salford L A 0 8 VIEW
17th Mar 1900 29
12 Warrington CC1 H 0 6 VIEW
4th Apr 1900 30
12 Leigh BTC1 H 8 0 1 VIEW
26th Apr 1900 31
12 Widnes BTCSF A 3 0 VIEW
3rd Nov 1900 32
14 Wigan BTC1 A 7 0 VIEW
10th Nov 1900 33
11 Wigan L A 8 8 VIEW
29th Nov 1902 34
15 Broughton Rangers L A 0 23 VIEW
*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.
WINS : 23 | LOSSES : 9 | DRAWS : 4


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