Fred Roffey


31-10-1925 v Rochdale Hornets
St. Helens Recs
1927- when he Retired
63 (0)

Biography of Fred Roffey

Frederick L. Roffey by Dave Dooley:
Fred Roffey was a rugged Welsh second row forward for the club playing over 60 matches in the first great era for the Saints during the 1920s. He made his debut against Rochdale Hornets on the 31st, October 1925. In 63 matches for the Saints Fred scored 19 tries, kicked no goals for a total points aggregate of 57 points.

Although born in Wales Fred spent his youth in South Godstone, Surrey. He won every honour in the game with the `Riversiders over an illustrious career on the other side of Billinge Lump. After Fred had been in a pay dispute with Wigan, Roffey was signed from the old enemy in a bid to bring silverware to Knowsley Road. At 32 years of age and great experience in the game Fred was a born leader. He was the captain of the Saints side which defeated local rivals Recs to lift the Lancashire Cup by 10 points to two in the 1926 Lancashire Cup Final.

In a representative capacity Fred won caps for Wales whilst at the Saints.

His final match for the Club was against St Helens Recs on the 23rd. April 1927. Although he was in the twilight of his career, Fred Roffey was a vital ingredient in one the first great Saints sides. Fred subsequently retired from the game.

Outside rugby Fred was a Shift Foreman for a Cement Manufacturer. In 1939 he was living in Weardale Crescent, Billingham, Durham. His journeys continued after the war and he settled in North Yorkshire. He died in Clark, North Yorkshire in October 1988, aged 93.

The following is a transcription of a taped interview with Fred Roffey from the mid 1980s at his home in Kendal:

“I was born in South Godstone, Surrey and we moved to South Wales when I was about three. I learned my rugby at the Ebbw Vale club. I was 22 when I signed for Wigan. Ebbw Vale were a good team and when the Wigan Committee came down to watch a game they signed me and my team-mate Tommy Howley, who was a centre. We made our debut together at Wigan. They signed a lot more Welshmen after that. They were always trying to improve the team and make it better. There were many famous names from Wales at Wigan: Wilf Hodder, ‘Seaman’ Woods, Johnny Ring, Tommy Parker, Percy Coldrick, Syd Gerram and Jim Sullivan and a few more”.

“Wigan mostly signed threequarters and half-backs from Wales. Of course, they had to provide us with jobs. None of us were tradesmen as such and we worked on the ground, a few of us, cleaning and painting the stands and doing odd jobs. We didn’t take care of the pitch, just the surrounds”.

“In 1924 we won the Challenge Cup at Rochdale. It was before the final was played at Wembley. There were 44,000 people there and it only seemed like a small ground. There were mounted police everywhere trying to control the crowds. I remember we scored one try when we had to dive through one of the horses’ legs! There was everything going on! It was one of the happiest days of my life. Wigan had never won the cup and it just happened to be my birthday. My wife invited my mother to come up for the match. When I scored the first try – we beat Oldham – I’ve never seen a crowd go so mad! When we went back to Wigan afterwards, you could hardly move in the old charabanc. Year after year they had tried and never won it”!

“Why did I move to St. Helens? It was all on a point of principle. The Wigan Directors had been in South Africa looking for players and amongst the lads they came back with was a forward and he was useless! He was getting paid more than the other forwards were. We decided we wouldn’t sign on unless we all got the same wage. All of us decided that we wouldn’t sign on until we got the same wage. Gradually, a few dribbled back and signed on, until there were just two of us left – me and Fred Brown, another Welshman. He and I left the club. I went to St. Helens. I was happier than ever there. I was eventually made captain – they said I had been signed to lead the pack - and I think I led them well. I used to tell the lads to make sure they followed the ball. Obviously I didn’t want to leave Wigan, but I went on principle”.

“I got on really well with some of the Recs’ players. Their loose forward was [skipper] Bill Mulvanney. I rated him. A clever player, but always ‘on’ for knocking somebody about. But he was a good player and not all that big and heavy. To be honest, I don’t know how he got away with some of the things he did! The Recs had a good scrum-half too, called Johnny Greenall. At Wigan, there was [fellow-Welshman] Syd Jerram, the best I’ve ever played with. When he came away he would give you the back-pass and I would score. In general, the Saints’ Lancashire Cup final team was one of the best I have ever played in…perhaps not as good as some of the Wigan sides, but it was certainly the best team St. Helens had at the time. In the Lancashire Cup final everybody played up to scratch that day. The Recs thought they were going to win”.

“One of my best memories was during the Easter games in 1927, when we played Wigan at Central Park. We played on 15th April and won 10-8. There were well over 20,000 there. I scored the winning try under the posts. Wally Groves had the ball. He was going to pass it along the line, but I came on the inside. ‘Right Wally’ I shouted and got the ball and scored the try. The Wigan fans went mad and were quite upset that one of their former players had beaten them”.

“What became the last match of the season and my last game for the Saints was the Championship semi-final at City Road against the Recs who had topped the table. All our plans went out of the window when we had two players sent off. I told them all that the Recs were there to cause trouble and just try to ignore them. Stand your barges and take it…but we just went to pieces. It seemed as though the Recs always had it in for me. People would come up to you and say: ‘So and so’s looking for you. And they did. The Saints bought Ben Halfpenny from Widnes to replace me after I retired at the end of the season”.


Season (Official Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches
1925~26 8 0 0 29
1926~2711 0 0 34
TOTALS:19 0 0 63
Season (Other Matches)TriesGoalsDGoalsMatches


31st Oct 1925 1
11 Rochdale Hornets L H 3 9 VIEW
14th Nov 1925 2
11 Dewsbury L A 0 10 VIEW
21st Nov 1925 3
11 Warrington L H 12 9 1 VIEW
28th Nov 1925 4
11 Bradford Northern L A 25 6 VIEW
12th Dec 1925 5
11 Salford L A 3 17 VIEW
16th Dec 1925 6
11 Dewsbury L H 7 0 VIEW
19th Dec 1925 7
11 Swinton L H 9 10 1 VIEW
25th Dec 1925 8
11 St. Helens Recs L A 3 3 1 VIEW
26th Dec 1925 9
11 Wigan L H 5 10 VIEW
1st Jan 1926 10
11 St. Helens Recs L H 4 2 VIEW
2nd Jan 1926 11
11 Oldham L A 6 24 VIEW
9th Jan 1926 12
11 Wigan Highfield L H 16 6 VIEW
16th Jan 1926 13
11 Warrington L A 7 9 VIEW
23rd Jan 1926 14
11 Salford L OBJ H 13 10 VIEW
30th Jan 1926 15
11 Batley L A 7 0 VIEW
6th Feb 1926 16
11 Broughton Rangers L H 24 8 1 VIEW
13th Feb 1926 17
11 Widnes CC1 A 10 7 VIEW
20th Feb 1926 18
11 Leigh L A 6 0 VIEW
27th Feb 1926 19
11 Hull CC2 H 7 10 VIEW
6th Mar 1926 20
11 Wigan Highfield L A 15 10 1 VIEW
15th Mar 1926 21
11 Hunslet L H 16 8 VIEW
20th Mar 1926 22
11 Barrow L A 2 9 VIEW
27th Mar 1926 23
11 Keighley L H 34 10 VIEW
2nd Apr 1926 24
11 Wigan L A 18 30 1 VIEW
3rd Apr 1926 25
11 Bradford Northern L H 41 8 1 VIEW
5th Apr 1926 26
11 Leigh L H 37 2 1 VIEW
6th Apr 1926 27
11 Keighley L A 12 2 VIEW
10th Apr 1926 28
11 Rochdale Hornets L A 0 0 VIEW
26th Apr 1926 29
11 Salford L H 23 0 VIEW
28th Aug 1926 30
11 Widnes L A 8 5 VIEW
4th Sep 1926 31
11 Widnes L H 7 10 VIEW
11th Sep 1926 32
11 Featherstone Rovers L A 15 0 1 VIEW
18th Sep 1926 33
11 Barrow L H 38 3 VIEW
25th Sep 1926 34
11 Wigan Highfield L A 15 7 1 VIEW
2nd Oct 1926 35
11 Pontypridd L H 35 13 1 VIEW
7th Oct 1926 36
11 Pemberton LC1 H 51 8 1 VIEW
16th Oct 1926 37
11 Warrington L A 5 16 VIEW
21st Oct 1926 38
11 Swinton LC2 H 29 18 VIEW
4th Nov 1926 39
12 Widnes LCSF A 3 3 VIEW
6th Nov 1926 40
12 Wigan Highfield L H 13 7 VIEW
8th Nov 1926 41
12 Widnes LCSF(rep) H 17 0 VIEW
13th Nov 1926 42
12 Salford L A 5 8 VIEW
20th Nov 1926 43
12 St. Helens Recs LCF N 10 2 VIEW
27th Nov 1926 44
12 York L H 54 3 1 VIEW
8th Dec 1926 45
11 New Zealand Tour H 22 12 VIEW
11th Dec 1926 46
11 Warrington L H 31 11 1 VIEW
18th Dec 1926 47
11 Leigh L A 3 6 VIEW
25th Dec 1926 48
11 St. Helens Recs L H 6 6 VIEW
29th Jan 1927 49
12 Leeds L H 18 6 VIEW
5th Feb 1927 50
12 Rochdale Hornets L A 0 4 VIEW
12th Feb 1927 51
11 York CC1 A 3 9 VIEW
19th Feb 1927 52
11 Batley L H 13 8 VIEW
5th Mar 1927 53
11 Swinton L A 3 24 VIEW
8th Mar 1927 54
13 Oldham L H 21 10 2 VIEW
19th Mar 1927 55
13 York L A 6 15 VIEW
26th Mar 1927 56
13 Pontypridd L A 10 5 VIEW
2nd Apr 1927 57
13 Salford L H 8 3 VIEW
9th Apr 1927 58
13 Broughton Rangers L H 16 0 1 VIEW
15th Apr 1927 59
13 Wigan L A 10 8 1 VIEW
16th Apr 1927 60
13 Swinton L H 27 0 1 VIEW
18th Apr 1927 61
13 Leigh L H 18 5 VIEW
20th Apr 1927 62
13 Leeds L A 21 10 VIEW
23rd Apr 1927 63
13 St. Helens Recs ChSF A 0 33 VIEW
12th May 1927 --
13 Barrow* Fr Lonsdale Hospital L 8 16 VIEW
*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.
WINS : 40 | LOSSES : 20 | DRAWS : 4


Copyright © Saints Heritage Society 1999-2024.