Sunday, February 26, 2012
Growing up in the early seventies I’d see curtain-sided wagons pass me by with the words ‘Idwal Fisher’ writ large upon their sides. I thought the words a slightly odd pairing not realising that Idwal was actually an old Welsh Christian name and that Idwal Fisher was a retired rugby league player running a fruit and veg business.
I mention this for two reasons; one, that people often ask me where the name Idwal Fisher originated and the other because Idwal died last month at the age of 76. Its only fitting that I pay tribute to him on the blog that carries his name.
Idwal was a Welshman who played Rugby Union for Swansea in the early sixties. Warrington must have seen some potential in this big second rower and signed him up bringing him north to play in the rival ‘League’ code. I never saw him play as I was too young but years later I saw his brother Tony coach a Doncaster side into the top flight. During his playing career Tony had a fearsome reputation as a hard as nails number nine and his features were a testimony to that position, a position that existed when contested scrums were still the norm. If Idwal had the same characteristics as his brother he must have been a formidable presence.
As I grew older I became more and more enamored with Rugby League. The honest toil of a simple game played in mainly northern towns appealed to provincial tendencies. After years of throwing my money away on a football team full of fanny dancers the switch to RL was an epiphany. Its a game often described as ‘chess with muscles’ an analogy which isn’t too far off the mark. Its a game played by tough men for a discerning crowd on terraces where fans mingle and trouble is rare. Its a game that I never tire of watching and one for which I have the utmost respect for players both past and present.