ONE of the pioneers of Whitehaven's rugby league club from its early days has died at the age of 89.

Billy Garratt joined Haven from amateur club Kells ahead of the 1950/51 season, their third campaign since being elected to the Rugby Football League.

He went on to play 234 times for the Recreation Ground club, scoring 42 tries and was captain in 1956/57 season, one of the most memorable in the club’s history.

Garratt won two England Under-21 caps against France, home and away, and was generally considered by good judges to have been unlucky not to have won more honours at a higher level.

Although essentially a stand-off, he was also a more than capable scrum-half, centre or loose-forward.

Whitehaven finished tenth in a league of 30 in the 1952/53 season and he was in the Whitehaven team which lost 15-5 to the touring Australians that year. A crowd of 9,253 had watched the game at the Recreation Ground.

The one match he is probably best remembered for was the one against the touring Kangaroos when he was skipper and led Whitehaven to a 14-11 victory.

That was also the season when Haven came within a whisker of reaching the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

After toppling St. Helens, Hunslet and Widnes, the Cumbrians came up against Leeds at Odsal in the semi-final and were pipped 10-9.

His final season for Haven was 1958/59 when he suffered a back injury which ultimately ended his career.

He had been chosen six times by Cumberland between 1951 and 1956.


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