It's been a sad few days in the Jobling household, as my first and only real childhood hero passed away on Monday. Mike Gregory was captain of Warrington Rugby League Club, and also successfully skippered the Great British Lions to two test series victories against New Zealand. A lad from Wigan (our fierce rivals) he played for "The Wire" for 12 years, my formative years on the terraces as a fan.
He suffered from a debilitating form of Motor Neurone Disease, bizarrely linked to an insect bite when he toured Down Under as coach of the Young Lions. He was only 43 and leaves behind his wife Erica and two young sons.
He was the one player that never gave anything short of 100% throughout his playing career, never took a backward step. If only we'd had 12 other Mike Gregory's playing for us we might have won some silverware in my time watching them. My strongest memories of Greg were after we'd been beaten by Wigan @ Wembley and his address outside the town hall, as he rallied the fans and stirred the spirit. The other was his legendary 80 yard try against the Aussies in the Third Test, 1988. Nothing typified sporting heroics like that man and that run. The greatest game, the greatest man.
I've shed a few tears at his passing, as have pretty much the whole of the Rugby League Family, as he touched the lives of fans from all clubs in this most fierce and tribal sport. I know you were a God fearing man, Mike, and you'll be skippering a team up there by the weekend is my bet...