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1 year ago By Kay White

Woolston Rovers stalwart Harry Crank was a very worthy recipient of the Warrington ‘Heart and Sole’ Award at the Man of Steel Awards

at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday evening for his dedication to Rugby League in the town for over half a century.

Harry went to Richard Fairclough School, which had a strong Rugby League tradition with Joe Manley driving it on and whilst playing at school he was also a keen Wire fan watching them with many others from the ‘kids pen’ at Wilderspool (Railway end).

A year or two after leaving school he joined Thames Board Rugby League where he played until joining Woolston Rovers in the early 1960s. Woolston Rovers ran just the one open-age team at that time competing in the Warrington & District League. Harry was just a strip of a lad playing either on the wing, at centre or full back.

In 1971 Rovers branched out running an Under 21s team, which turned out to be a success and the club started to develop from then on. In 1974 Harry started coaching and taking training sessions for Juniors that proved to be very popular and numbers started to increase quickly over a broad age range and the Junior Section was born. A year or so later Brian Chambers got involved and things snowballed from there.

Continuing as a player Harry was a member of the Open Age team that went down to Rochdale Mayfield in the 1975 Lancashire Cup Final; this was the start of Rovers emerging as a strong playing force. In 1976 the fruits of believing in developing Juniors shone brightly with Rovers Under 18s defeating Askam to win the National Youth Cup.

Harry obtained his coaching qualifications and coached the second team in the early 1980s. With the club now thriving after the opening of the Jubilee Pavilion in 1978 of which Harry was very much involved with the fundraising for this facility (Woolston Rovers raised £12,000 towards it), teams and players were springing up from nowhere and were at one stage running 4 open-age teams and a full Junior section.

In the late 1980s things got a little calmer with just 3 open-age teams; the 3rd team was known as the ‘jolly boys’ and was run by Harry along with Eric Forrest and to live up to their name they travelled by coach to all away games and a good time was had by all.

Parts of the 1980s and 1990s Harry was away from the club with a spell working abroad along with a stint in the Merchant Navy although he always kept in touch wanting to know what was going on, after all he was now the Club President having taken on the role in the early 1980s.

The club went through the glory years of the 1990s with Harry very much to the fore in fundraising and development of the club facilities, i.e. floodlights, changing rooms, drainage and new spectator stand. Following the devastating fire in 2002 the club was rocked to the core and Harry was one of the stalwarts left to pick up the pieces. With teams splitting up, pitches being moved, funds having to be raised to sort out the aftermath of the fire this was a very difficult period but Harry was there at the fore helping to sort it all out, and he did.

Harry was again at the fore in moving Rovers to Monk Sports Club and getting additional changing facilities that enabled us to play and rebuild the club from. Whenever anything wants doing around the club the first people that everyone turns to are Harry and his partner-in-crime Warren Whalley (who himself was a recipient of this award last year) and they never let you down whether it is marking the pitch, putting up railings or developing new areas.

Harry's help and generosity is not only limited to Woolston Rovers; he has been a long serving member of the Lions, he is a former President of Warrington Lions and was at the fore of all there charity work, collecting with the sleigh at Christmas, organising pensioners parties and many other events throughout each year. He is currently a member of Birchwood Lions and still heavily involved with their charity work, regular Saturday morning car boot sales etc.

Harry's charity work etc. was recognised by the Queen a few years ago when he received the British Empire Medal (BEM), which was very well deserved. People like Harry are few and far between and Woolston Rovers have been very fortunate to have his unselfish help, support and assistance for well over 50 years.

If you would like to be involved at Rovers in any capacity please contact Club Secretary Nikki Whalley on 07889 170895, e-mail or log on to the club website at for further details.

Updated 20:30 - 21 Nov 2017 by Kay White

Where next?

ROVERS DUO SHORTLISTED FOR NORTH WEST COUNTIES JUNIORS PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS Woolston Rovers duo Kyle Best and Connor Wrench have been shortlisted for the Player of the Year
DAVE WHALLEY - WOOLSTON ROVERS COMMUNITY HERO 2017 Dave Whalley was crowned Woolston Rovers ‘Community Hero’ at the Man of Steel Awards Dinner at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday evening.


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