Pictured left alongside George Thornton (players association) and Ronnie Duanne (Warrington and Great Britain centre)
It is with great sadness that Warrington Wolves learned of the passing of Hall of Famer Laurie Gilfedder. He died on Monday 7 January 2019, at Warrington General Hospital, aged 83.
Warrington-born Gilfedder was signed in the summer of 1951 from Warrington R.U.F.C. Standing 6ft tall and tipping the scales at 15st ‘Gilly’ had the speed, strength and size to play either in the threequarters or as a back row forward.
When he strode out onto the Wilderspool pitch, on 1 December 1951, to make his debut against Belle Vue Rangers (won 26-11), he entered the record books as Warrington’s youngest player aged just 16 years and 199 days! Only Jackie Edwards, who made his debut in 1955, at the age of 16 years and three months, was younger.
His first try for Warrington came in his second appearance, a 20-16 victory against Halifax at Thrum Hall in March 1952. He started the 1952/53 season as centre to Brian Bevan, standing in for the injured skipper, Ally Naughton. He did not let the side down and Bevan scored in each of those five matches.
The following three seasons were disrupted as he completed his National Service. While doing so he represented British Services. It meant that he missed out playing in the Warrington triumphs of 1954 and 1955.
After returning to ‘Civvy Street’ he established himself in the Warrington side, playing in 40 of 44 matches in the 1956/57 season and was the club’s leading try scorer, with 22, the only season that it wasn’t Brian Bevan from 1947 to 1961! His goalkicking prowess was noted, and he is the eighth highest in the history of the club, with 426 goals.
For seven season’s Gilfedder was a fixture in the Warrington side, hardly missing a match. In 1959 he played in Warrington’s Lancashire Cup winning side that defeated St Helens. The following season he kicked two goals as Warrington were defeated in the 1961 Championship Final by Leeds.
His talent didn’t go unnoticed with an appearance for the Northern RL XIII as they defeated the 1956 touring Australians, two days after helping Warrington also defeat the Aussies, when he scored two tries. The first of his nine appearances for Lancashire came in the 1957/58 season. He also won five Great Britain caps, the highlight of his career undoubtedly being picked to Tour Australia and New Zealand in 1962. He took his place at loose forward for the second Test at Lang Park, Brisbane, to help win the Ashes 17-10…being the last Warrington player to do so! Laurie has the rare distinction of being picked for Great Britain as both a back and a forward.
The following season was his last for the Wire, he kicked five goals on his final appearance, in a 13-15 defeat at Hull K.R on 1 June 1963.
Gilfedder, whose Heritage Number is 533, played 283 times for Warrington, scored 96 tries, kicked 426 goals for a total of 1,140 points.
He wanted pastures new, and in August 1963 he moved to Wigan for a club record fee of £9,500. He scored 819 points in 143 matches for Wigan over four seasons. He made two Wembley appearances for Wigan in 1965 and 1966. In 1965 he kicked a first-minute penalty goal from the half-way line in the classic 20-16 victory over Hunslet, he also raced 45 yards for a try and kicked two more goals. A year later he kicked another goal for Wigan as they lost 21-2 to arch rivals St Helens at Wembley.
In 1967 he moved on to Alex Murphy’s Leigh. He played loose forward, and kicked a goal in Leigh’s 5–8 defeat by Castleford in the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy Final during the 1967/68 season. In 18 months at Hilton Park Laurie scored 178 points in 40 appearances for Leigh. He retired after a tremendous 17-year career having scored 2,315 points in 500 games of Rugby League.
He worked for 31 years as a senior warehouse supervisor at the Greenall Whitley Brewery. He was an active member of the Warrington Players’ Association. Along with wife Hilda he was a regular at matches and events at both Wilderspool and The Halliwell Jones Stadiums. He loved nothing more than watching and talking Rugby League.
He was one of the original 12 inductees into the Warrington Hall of Fame. Along with his old centre partner Jim Challinor, he will go down as one of the greatest ever Warrington-born Rugby League players.
His wife Hilda passed away in April last year. They had two daughters, Lynne and the late Dianne, four grandchildren and four great granddaughters. The club send their condolences to all his family and friends.
The funeral is at Cardinal Newman Church, Knutsford Road, Warrington on Thursday 24 January at 10.30am.