Fred Higgins | 1939/40 - 1954/55 |
Heritage Number: Date of Birth:
22.03.1940 vs. Leigh. Age:
02.05.1955 vs. Whitehaven. Age:
Member of the Widnes Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Inductee
It is a fact of modern life that many prominent Rugby League players do not play for the town of their birth. At an early age they are spotted in junior or even school teams, and are lured away by persuasive managers and fat contracts. It is not something completely new: even in past times Widnes men have made their names playing fur other clubs - men like Alan Prescott, the Great Britain captain during the late fifties. And we must not forget that we ourselves have benefited greatly from the system over the years.
Nevertheless, Widnes has always been renowned for the quality of its locally produced talent. and there are hundreds of backs and forwards who have played out long careers in nothing but a black and white jersey. lt is fitting that those men should be mentioned here, and although they cannot be named, for the list is too long, their loyalty and service to the Widnes club deserves to be remembered. Perhaps we can take one of them to represent the rest, and they themselves could surely not choose a better representative than Fred Higgins, a stalwart one-club man, if ever there was one. It is impossible to think of Fred Higgins ever playing for any other club than Widnes, and the only times he ever appeared in another jersey was when he represented not his town but his country.
Fred was a player's player and a forward's forward When you get people like Ken Gee and Joe Egan picking him out as one of the best second-rows they ever had behind them. there can be no doubt of his quality as a player His greatest attribute was his incredible strength. but with his high-stepping running action he was always was a difficult man to stop. He was also versatile and fast enough to play outside the pack. In the days before substitutions weer allowed, an injury to one of your backs could be a serious handicap, because a forward would have to take his place. There was no problem when you had Fred Higgins playing!
And it took a lot to keep Fred from playing. One Saturday, when Widnes had a league fixture away to Featherstone, the team bus called at Fred Higgins yard, to pick him up as usual. Fred climbed aboard without saying a word, and it was only when they were well on their way to Yorkshire that he asked the trainer, Frank Tobin, to take a look at his leg, as he had had a slight accident that morning. The "slight accident" had put a deep and ugly gash in his calf, and it was so bad that he should have been on his way to hospital, rather than a tough rugby match. But nothing anyone on the coach said could persuade Fred Higgins that he should not play. Little things like that could not stop him!
Just as Silcock was our greatest forward before the Second World War, so Fred Higgins was just after it. His qualities were first recognised by the international selectors in 1950, and he was one of two Widnes players to be picked for the tour of Australia and New Zealand in that year, playing in all the Test matches. Unfortunately, this meant that he and Danny Naughton had to embark on the six week boat trip to Australia before the date of the Wembley final between Widnes and Warrington. He was sadly missed on that occasion, and he was sadly missed when he decided to hang up his boots for the last time. Who was going to give Tom Smith, Harry Dawson and Co. a lift to the Plaza on Saturday nights, now that Fred and his battered lorry were not available?
Fred's services to Widnes Rugby League Club did not end there, however. He returned to the club as a member of the Committee, and for several years his quiet but dry humour and his solid common sense were again part of the Widnes scene.
It is difficult to find anyone in Rugby League who is still more widely respected and admired than Fred Higgins. He was a good servant to the game as a whole, and most of all to the only club he ever played for. Fred Higgins is a Widnes man, through and through. Like all those other Widnes men, we are entitled to be proud of him.