Halifax RL legend Roberts dies

Players Association Chairman Ken Roberts, Heritage Number 732, with current coach Richard Marshall, Heritage Number 1077
Players Association Chairman Ken Roberts, Heritage Number 732, with current coach Richard Marshall, Heritage Number 1077

Ken Roberts, one of the greatest players in the history of Halifax RLFC, died on Tuesday.

The prop or second row played 127 times for Halifax between 1963 and 1967 and won 27 Great Britain caps, scoring four tries.

He also played for Swinton, Bradford Northern, Rochdale Hornets and Salford, for whom he played his last match in 1971.

Roberts is Halifax’s most capped Test player and the only player to have captained a Great Britain side. He is in the club’s Hall of Fame.

Born in Atherton, Lancashire, he was a formidable opponent, able to dominate with his sheer physical presence in the days of contested scrums. He also had excellent ball-handling skills for a big man.

Roberts came to Halifax from Swinton for £5,000 - a huge fee at the time - and made his debut against Featherstone at Thrum Hall on August 24, 1963.

He helped Halifax beat Rovers in the Yorkshire Cup final later in the year and was made captain during the 1964 season, helping Halifax win the Eastern Division Championship.

Halifax won the Rugby League Championship in 1965 with Roberts’ leadership of the pack a key factor. The following season Halifax lost to St Helens in the Championship Final at Swinton.

He made his final appearance for the Thrum Hallers away to Leeds in January, 1967, before joining Bradford. His career spanned 475 first class matches.

After his retirement he was a local publican and became chairman of the Halifax Past Players’ Association

Jim Mills, a fellow international prop, tweeted: “So saddened at the news my old friend Ken Roberts has died, Ken was a great player and lovely man, Rest well Ken.”