Rugby fans urged to back legend Billy

Billy Boston in action during his Wigan playing days
Billy Boston in action during his Wigan playing days

A Welsh rugby charity has urged people to support Billy Boston by getting involved in a charity dinner to be held in the legend’s honour.

The Welsh Charitables RFC have organised a dinner at Cardiff’s Mercure Holland House Hotel on Friday, October 27, for Boston as he battles the onset of dementia.

Boston is a household name in Wigan, with 488 appearances for the Riversiders to his name as well as an incredible 479 tries in Wigan colours.

In a Wigan career spanning from 1953-68, Boston also made 31 appearances for Great Britain and won three Challenge Cups and a league title.

The Welsh Charitables, chaired by former Lions flanker Terry Cobner had high hopes for the dinner, but so far only a couple of tables have been sold.

Charitables secretary David Power told Wales Online: “Tiger Bay’s Billy Boston has been revered throughout the rugby world as one of the greatest players ever.

“What I find strange is where such a legend of the game, who has statues erected in his honour at Wembley and Wigan, is more recognised and revered there, than he is down here in Wales.

“It seems that we have forgotten him.

“We are going to put the record books straight by holding this tribute dinner.

“At 82-years of age Billy is the oldest player we have honoured with a tribute dinner. Jim Mills, Ray French and Clive Rowlands are just three of the legends who will be sharing their memories of him.

“He scored 571 tries during his career and has been inducted into the British Rugby League Hall of Fame and the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is going to be a treat to hear top players tell Billy their memories of him being one of Great Britain’s greatest ever players.”

Boston was honoured in his hometown last year with a statue being unveiled in Believe Square and that December was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Wales Sports Awards.

Charitables chairman Cobner added: “Billy was one of my father’s heroes, this is a great and fitting tribute in his home city of Cardiff to such a giant of rugby league, who undoubtedly would have earned many caps for Wales and the Lions if he hadn’t gone north.”

Speaking to Wigan Today in 2013, Boston recalled how he came to Wigan.

“They (club directors) used to come down to South Wales but as soon as I saw any fancy cars I used to go home,” he said.

“One day they caught me up and they put so much money on the table.”

The middle child in the Boston household of six boys and five girls to an Irish mother and a father from Sierra Leone had made an impression wherever he went. And Wigan wanted him at any cost.

Boston continued: “They put £1,500 on the table and I said, ‘get rid of them mum, I want to stop here’.

“So she said ‘put £3,000 on the table and he’ll sign’, so they did.”

But even with his incredible record, he insisted: “They didn’t need to sign me.”

Rugby fans and companies wishing to get involved can book their tickets to be at this special event. It’s £55 a head and this includes a five-course meal and coffee.

Call David Power, secretary of the Welsh Charitables RFC, on 07973 705062 or email david.power@welshcharitablesrfc.com.

All of the money raised will go to the Welsh Charitables RFC Benevolent Fund. Over the years the Welsh Charitables have supported charities including Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust, The Princes Trust Cymru St David’s Hospice Care, Ty Hafan the family Hospice for young lives, and British Heart Foundation Cymru.