A RETIRED art teacher has created a stunning tribute to his favourite rugby league team ... but it’s not Wigan Warriors!
John Meadows, who is the former head of art at the Deanery High School, has revealed his true colours by painstakingly painting a tribute to Saints’ greatest players during the club’s Knowsley Road era.
Among the names featured on the poster are Paul Wellens, Keiron Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe – as well as stars of years gone by such as Duggie Greenall, Tom Van Vollenhoven and John’s personal favourite, Alex Murphy.
John, 62, a lifelong Saints fan who moved from St Helens to Orrell in 1988, said: “I created a limited edition painting last year to commemorate the closure of Knowsley Road, and everyone was asking me what I was going to do next.
“So I decided to paint a poster of all the players who had been voted by a panel of experts as Saints’ greatest ever. It took me 170 hours to paint – about 10 hours per player – but involved quite a lot of research too.
“I didn’t know too much about the likes of Leslie Fairclough, for example, and used old programmes and newspaper excerpts to add little biographies of each player on a collage around the border.
“What I didn’t want to do was just create a team portrait – so I tried to search for photos of each player in typical poses.
“The likes of Tom Van Vollenhoven and Alex Murphy had to be in action poses.”
John made his first visit to Knowsley Road with his dad when he was just six years old, an experience which inspired him to take up playing rugby league himself as a teenager.
He then went on to play for England Universities in the first ever University International against France in 1973 while studying in Leeds.
John, whose wife Norma used to work as a lecturer at Wigan and Leigh College, added: “Last year’s Knowsley Road painting was a limited edition but this one is on general sale.
“People can get A2 or A3 size prints, or an A2 print on stretched canvas.
“The interest I received last year was amazing. I even received an order from a Saints fan working on the oil rigs in Saudi Arabia!”
To find out more about John’s paintings, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org