BY ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, Billy Wilson was a key figure in Saints’ 11-year premiership run. ‘Billy was the most respected of all the players I played with,’ Norm Provan told Larry Writer in Never Before, Never Again. ‘Not by just a little bit, but by a long way.’
Here are some memories of Wilson, from a trio of Dragons champions …
Bob Bugden: ‘In ’55, Bluey was playing second row and his opposite number whacked me when I put the ball into the scrum. And Billy, he stuttered a little bit, he says, “Now, son, d-d-d-on’t worry about that bloke, you just keep doing your job.” Next scrum I heard an almighty crack, the sound of fist on flesh, and the guy who’d been harassing me was unconscious on the ground. Billy protected us, particularly the little fellows.’
Johnny King: ‘In 1960, I was racing to support one of our men who’d made a break and my opposite winger grabbed me from behind to hold me back. I was too small in those days to shake him off. Billy took the bloke quietly aside and said to him, “Friend, lay a hand on young John again and I will flatten you.” The winger took the hint.’
Eddie Lumsden: ‘I saw him knock a man out with his chest, just launched himself chest-first and knocked him down and out. We both played on the right side of the field so I saw him at work. In the third Test on the 1959 Kangaroo tour at Central Park, Wigan, Jack Wilkinson, their prop, was committing mayhem. Jack was a madman and was always getting into scrapes on and off the field. Billy was lining him in the scrum and considered him his responsibility. I said to Bill, “How are you coping with that big bastard, Billy?” And he smiled through a face full of blood and said, “One more scrum and I’ll have his nose right off.”’
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