Talented rugby player Tony Colloby dies aged 81

Tony Colloby, a talented rugby player of both codes, has died aged 81.

Colloby, who was originally a stand-off half with Kendal rugby union club, later turned professional with Whitehaven rugby league club to start a successful career in the 13-a-side code.

He became a much sought after winger, known as the Kendal flyer, in a professional career serving Haven, Town, Blackpool, Salford and Barrow.

Indeed, he was also a talented footballer who played amateur football for a year after leaving Kendal Grammar School as a 15-year-old.

But he was effectively converted to rugby union by the Kendal club and forged a reputation as a talented stand-off.

Indeed, by the time he was 17 he was playing County Championship rugby for Cumberland and Westmorland and before switching to rugby league he played 15 times for the Twin Counties.

The switch to rugby league came when he was 21 and he was signed by the Whitehaven Rugby League club for a tidy sum of £2,000 which at the time would have been enough to buy a house in Kendal.

On his home debut against Batley on April 23, he scored tries in an 18-13 win.

Almost a year later, on March 10, 1962, he set a new club record by scoring five tries in a game against Liverpool City. The feat was matched by Les Lowther in February of the following year and stood until 1985 when Vince Gribbin scored six against Doncaster.

Overall, Colloby played 82 times for Whitehaven, scoring 53 tries and scoring 10 goals.

He was transferred to Workington in April 1964 in a deal with Eddie Brennan, Matt McLeod and Fred Hodgson going opposite directions to the Recreation Ground. Haven’s asking price was ¬£5,000.

When he crossed the western border of Cumbria and moved to Workington, his trademark galloping runs – powerful and fast – made him a crowd favorite.

He made 89 appearances for Town, scoring 38 tries, scoring four goals.

A carpenter by trade Colloby had an accident at work on a planning machine and had to reattach two finger ends.

He had also completed his military service by then, playing for the army and demonstrating his prowess as an athlete by clocking ten seconds for the 100 yards.

A surprise move to Blackpool followed in 1968, while in 1971 he was signed by Salford, considered one of the richest clubs in rugby league at the time – and for a time one of the top clubs.

He finished his career back in Cumbria with Barrow before retiring in 1975.

An interesting fact is that he was a member of the Cumberland squad that won the County Championship triangle competition a whopping five times with Yorkshire and Lancashire – all with different teams – which must be unique. He played 19 times for the County.

He was a member of the Cumberland team which defeated Australia 17-15 at Derwent Park in 1967 and at the age of 31 he scored two tries in Salford’s game against New Zealand’s World Cup squad.

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