The birth of a legend

Billy Boston in action for Wigan
Billy Boston in action for Wigan

SIXTY years ago today - Nov 21 1953 - Wigan fans saw a new player take to the field for the first team.

Billy Boston had already appeared in the ‘A’ team – making his bow in a victory over Barrow ‘A’ on October 31, 1953, and such was the impression he made he was thrust into the first team.

The winger wasted no time in scoring the first of his astonishing 479 tries for the club, and scored eight more during his nine appearances in the 1953/54 season. At the age of 20, he became a regular feature of the first team the following season, returning 31 tries from 31 appearances, but Wigan, coached by Ted Ward, finished the season in seventh place.

Boston had to wait until 1958 to get his hands on his first trophy, with the 13-9 Challenge Cup success over Workington.

A Wembley return was on the cards the following year and Boston had his best performance under the twin towers, scoring twice in a resounding 30-13 win over Hull, and Wigan also proved their credentials in the league by winning the Lancashire League, even though they fell short in the Championship play-offs, losing to Hunslet.

In 1960, Boston won his one and only league title – a surprising statistic given he spent 15 years at the club – and obliged with two tries in the 27-3 rout of Wakefield Trinity who had finished the regular season in second place, two places above The Riversiders.

Boston’s third and final Challenge Cup winners medal came in the classic 1965 victory over Hunslet, though the match is more remembered for the tries scored by Wigan’s other winger, Trevor Lake in the 20-16 win.

There are also three losers medals from challenge Cup Finals to Boston’s name. Wakefield defeated Wigan 25-10 in 1963 and there were two losses to St Helens in the decade, 12-6 in 1961 and 21-2 in 1966. He scored his last Wigan try in a play-off defeat of Leeds in April 1968 before a short spell at Blackpool Borough.