Len Killeen RIP

It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Lenny Killeen. �Lenny the Lion� [remember that graffiti on the back wall of the old Popular Side] on the left wing was an integral part of a Saints� team that virtually swept the board, with four trophies in the 1965-66 season.It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Lenny Killeen.

�Lenny the Lion� [remember that graffiti on the back wall of the old Popular Side] on the left wing was an integral part of a Saints� team that virtually swept the board, with four trophies in the 1965-66 season. Lenny, of course, was a prodigious kicker, who took on the responsibility in earnest following Kel Coslett�s broken ankle and did the job supremely well, topping the goal-kicking chart in 1965-66 with 120. He was also sensational with the ball in his hands too. Indeed the �four cups� season saw Lenny as the league�s leading try-scorer, goal-kicker and points-scorer, a fantastic achievement. He went on to top the overall points� charts for three successive seasons (1964-65; 1965-66; 1966-67) � a measure of his terrific ability.

Signed from South African rugby union in 1962, Lenny was a natural sportsman and a born entertainer. So laid back and almost matter-of-fact, he could do most things supremely well, although it is true to say that tackling was not a great forte of his! Mind you, he had a crash-tackler supreme, Billy Benyon, as his centre, who would deny his opposite number the chance of getting it to the wings! �He was a real one-off,� Billy remembers. �He was so confident and self-assured. When we went to Wembley in the 1966 Challenge Cup final we went to visit the stadium beforehand and he put the ball down about ten yards from the half-way line and said �If I get the opportunity tomorrow, this is where I�m going to have a go from.� True to his word, he managed to do just that and will always be remembered for it.�

Lenny won the Lance Todd trophy as the Saints destroyed Wigan that day, largely on the strength of that mighty penalty goal, but he scored a brilliant try in the corner too. �When I first went to Saints we were told that kicking was out,� recalls Billy Benyon. �But there was a chance for me to put him through with a chip kick and he touched down brilliantly � a great moment for both of us!�

He was a true hero for the Saints� fans after that and he followed it up with a brilliant hat-trick of tries against Halifax a week later at Station Road in the Championship final. Lenny was a great entertainer and would always attempt to do something unorthodox to score a try. He could intercept, had great pace, swerve and one of his specialities was to beat the full-back by kicking over him and re-gaining before going under the sticks - the work of a true genius. �There was a lot of Jamie Lyon in him,� recalls former team-mate Peter Harvey. �He had brilliant footwork and became a real points-scoring machine. Many people wouldn�t know this�but one time Bobby Charlton came down to training [he was good friends with Alex Murphy] and we kicked a soccer ball around. Bobby reckoned that Lenny kicked just as hard, if not harder than a professional soccer player. That says it all about him � a tremendous talent. He was a great personality to, the sort of person who would light up a room when he came in!�

The 1966 team soon began to break up and Lenny left Knowsley Road to join the Balmain club in Sydney at the end of the 1966-67 season. Several years later he had helped the Tigers to a Grand Final success over South Sydney. In fact, Lenny was inducted into Balmain�s Hall of Fame not too long ago.

For a certain generation, he was truly the bees knees! He could pull out an amazing play, very often when the chips were down. His near length-of-the-field touchdown saved Saints from possible embarrassment in the 1966 Challenge Cup semi-final against Dewsbury, just when it was needed.

Lenny played 187 times for the Saints, with115 tries and 408 goals, a total of 1161 points. In later years the club brought out a replica of the 1966 Wembley jersey, with the number five on the back. If you have one, get it out of the wardrobe and wear it with pride as a mark of respect for the great man � a true Saints� legend!

Alex Service

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