Brian Bevan

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For the English footballer, see Brian Bevan (footballer).
Brian Bevan
Personal information
Full name Brian Eyrl Bevan
Nickname Wing Wizard
Born (1924-06-24)24 June 1924
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 3 June 1991(1991-06-03) (aged 66)
Southport, Merseyside, England
Playing information
Position Wing
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1942–46 Eastern Suburbs 8 0 1 0 2
1946–62 Warrington 620 740 34 0 2288
1962–64 Blackpool Borough 42 17 0 0 51
Total 670 757 35 0 2341
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1949–55 Other Nationalities 16 26 0 0 78
1952 British Empire XIII 1 1 0 0 3
1954 Rugby League XIII 1 2 0 0 6
Source: [1]

Brian Eyrl Bevan (1924–1991) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer of the 1940s, 50s and 60s who became the only player ever to have been inducted into both the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame and British Rugby League Hall of Fame. An Other Nationalities representative winger, Bevan scored a world record 796 tries, mainly for the Warrington RLFC. In 2008, the centenary year of rugby league in Australia, he was named on the wing of Australia's Team of the Century (1908-2007). Bevan was the only player chosen in the team who had never represented Australia in a test match.

Sydney[edit]

The son of former Eastern Suburbs' player Rick Bevan, Brian Bevan began his career playing for Easts in 1942. He made 7 appearances for the club, although when World War II had begun in 1939 he had decided to join the Royal Australian Navy, which restricted his appearances for the club. Ironically, Bevan, who would go on to break try scoring records in English club football, never scored a try for Easts.

Brian was the brother of Owen 'Ozzy' Bevan who played for Sydney club the St George Dragons as well as Warrington, and is the great uncle of Paul Bevan who plays Australian rules football for the Sydney Swans in the Australian Football League.

England[edit]

He arrived on board HMAS Australia in Britain in 1946, and all he had with him was a letter of recommendation which was written by former Eastern Suburbs Test winger Bill Shankland. Bevan requested a trial with Leeds, which was a suggestion from Shankland, but the club decided against signing him partially due to his frail looking appearance. Shankland also recommended he try Hunslet if Leeds refused to sign him, but once again he was turned down. He then decided to try his luck with the Warrington club. Warrington decided to give him an 'A' team trial in November in which he scored a try. The club were impressed with his first performance and decided to play him in the first team a week later. The club then decided to sign him on a permanent basis on a £300 contract. He then returned home to Australia for several months in order to complete his Navy service, before returning to Warrington.

In 1946–47, his first season, he scored 48 tries for the club which was 14 tries more than any other player in the league. Within four years at the club he had surpassed the club's try scoring record of 215 set by Jack Fish over thirteen seasons. On five occasions Brian Bevan was the top try scorer in England. His best season for try scoring feats was in 1952–53 when he amassed a total of 72 tries. Only Albert Rosenfeld has scored more tries in a single season in Britain. Rosenfeld holds the top two most tries in a season with 78 in 1911–12 and 80 in 1913–14. He was the 1946–47 Northern Rugby Football League season's top try-scorer with 48. The 1953–54 season saw him become the highest try scorer in the game's history when he passed the 446 tries mark set by Alf Ellaby.

In his career in Britain, Bevan scored a hat-trick of tries or more in a single game 100 times. Twice he scored seven tries in a single game for Warrington, which is still a club record. During his sixteen-year career with Warrington he helped the club win the Challenge Cup twice, three RL Championships, a Lancashire Cup and six Lancashire League titles. He played his last game for Warrington on Easter Monday, 1962. He came out of semi-retirement to play for Blackpool Borough between 1962–64.

Brian Bevan played Right-Wing in Warrington's 5-28 defeat by Wigan in the 1949–50 Lancashire Cup final at Station Road, Swinton on Saturday 4 November 1950.[2]

He played for the British Empire XIII against New Zealand on Wednesday 23 January 1952 at Stamford Bridge, London.

In all he scored an incredible 796 tries in his career in Britain in all competitive matches (a world record for tries by a rugby player of either code), 740 of which were for Warrington, in 620 appearances (both club records). In 1961 he returned to Australia to play for an Eastern Suburbs seven-a-side competition for Keith Holman's testimonial.[3]

As Bevan played most of his career in English football, he unfortunately never got the chance to represent Australia in a test match. Though he did mesmerise Kangaroo touring sides with his guile and skill for almost two decades, showing the Australian's a rare try scoring talent they had missed out on and lacked until the emergence of legendary speedster Ken Irvine in the late 1950s.

Post-playing[edit]

In 1988 Brian Bevan was inducted into the British Rugby League Hall of Fame. The 'wing wizard', as he is commonly referred, died in Southport, England in 1991, aged 66. Thousands turned up for his memorial service a month later which was held on the pitch at Wilderspool Stadium which was at the time the home of Warrington RLFC.

Statue of Brian Bevan at the Halliwell Jones Stadium

Bevan was featured on a British stamp in 1995, one of a series of five to commemorate the centenary of Rugby League. In September, 2005 he was also inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.[4] He is the only player to have been so doubly honoured. A statue of him was erected in the middle of a roundabout close to Warrington's old home ground, Wilderspool Stadium. This was moved to the club's new ground when they relocated to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in 2004, which also includes a mural showing Bevan's face made from 'Primrose and Blue' bricks, the traditional Warrington colours. Brian Bevan became a Warrington Wolves Hall of Fame inductee.[5]

The Brian Bevan commemorative mural

In February 2008, Bevan was named in a list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the National Rugby League and the Australian Rugby League to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[6][7] Bevan went on to be named as one of the wingers, along with Ken Irvine, in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century. Announced on 17 April 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players.[8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gate, Robert (2003). Rugby League Hall of Fame. Stroud: Tempus. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7524-2693-8. 
  2. ^ "1950-1951 Lancashire Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^ 2005 Annual Report - Australian Rugby League (p. 51)
  4. ^ Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame
  5. ^ "Hall of Fame at Wire2Wolves.com". wire2wolves.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  7. ^ Peter Cassidy (23 February 2008). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  8. ^ Todd Balym (17 April 2008). "Johns, Meninga among Immortals". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 17 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "Team of the Century Announced". NRL & ARL. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gate, Robert (2002). The Great Bev, The Rugby League Career Brian Bevan. London: London League Publications. ISBN 1-903659-06-X. 

External links[edit]