Allan Bishop by Dave Dooley
A scrum-half like his elder brother Tommy, Allan began his professional career at Knowsley Road. He progressed through the ranks before his transfer to Blackpool Borough for £2500 in 1970. He later served Widnes and Huyton with distinction. This lively scrum half signed for the Saints whilst his brother Tommy was one of the leading lights at Knowsley Road.
His playing characteristics were easily recognisable as he had a good pair of hands, nippy footwork and the ability to support play and score tries. He made his debut for the club after coming on as a substitute in the 11 points to 10 home league victory over Huyton on the 20th of September, 1968. He made an impact as the Saints were surprisingly losing by 10 points to 5 at half time.
His first start came in the home league game against Hull KR on November 11th the same year, a match that Saints won by 21 points to 5. In all his starts for the Saints he wore the number seven jersey replacing his brother.
The following league game Allan played in a tight tussle against Salford that ended 9 points apiece and then remained on the bench in the away 20 points to 5 victory over Warrington. On December 4th 1968 Saints entertained Blackpool Borough at Knowsley Road and won by 13 points to 5 with Allan scoring his first ever try for the first team. He did not feature on the team-sheet again until late March 1969 when Allan came on as a substitute to score a try in the 19 points to 4 home league victory. Allan featured in the next two Easter fixtures and scored in both matches. In front of 22,202 spectators at Central Park on Good Friday, Saints crashed by 34 points to 10. Easter Monday brought better fortunes for Allan and his team-mates as Swinton were put to the sword by 40 points to 5.
Allan`s last appearance for the first team was in the 8 points to 5 home loss to Workington Town on the 12th. of April, 1969. This put paid to Saints ambition`s regarding finishing top of the league that season. As the campaign ended Saints were in second place just four points behind Leeds and having lost just 5 league games all season. Their home defeat to Castleford in the Championship semi-final was a great disappointment to the players and supporters alike. Allan was transferred to Blackpool Borough at the end of the campaign.
Allan`s daughter Lindsey informs us that, "He signed for the Saints from Parr Labour for the fee of £1000 on his 16th birthday in Jan 1965. He was 5"4` and weighed in at 9st 13lbs. He`s put a bit of weight on now! In his first match against Blackpool, Stan Owen hit him with a belter. Dad played 7 while Uncle Tom played 6. After his Blackpool Borough days Dad signed for Widnes. He broke his collar bone and couldn`t play at Wembley against the Saints, that was in 1976."
Allan formerly owned the Globe Hotel in Stanley Street, behind the Town Hall, where he had many superb rugby league images on display.
Thanks to Lindsey and Allan for their contributions.
Allan can also be seen in action in the film Another Bloody Sunday, when he played for Huyton, with Geoff Fletcher as Player-Coach.
Allan died in early April 2020 and we posted this fitting obituary from Alex Service
It is extremely sad to report the passing of one of the town’s great sporting characters, from one of the most famous rugby league families. Allan Bishop passed away on Friday 3rd April after a short illness. He had recently celebrated his 71st birthday.
A former pupil at Rivington Road School, Allan signed for Saints from Parr Labour Club ARLFC for the sum of £1,000 on his 16th birthday in January 1965. He was a typical scrum-half in terms of build in those days at 5 feet four inches in height and weighing in at 9 stone 13 pounds. Allan became a real stalwart for the A team during his time at Knowsley Road and had to wait a while before making his senior debut against Huyton at Knowsley Road, on 20th September 1968, when he came off the bench. Saints were losing 5-10 at half-time and eventually won 11-10 against one of the league’s perennial strugglers!
The Saints’ team that day read as follows: Walsh; Wilson, Tony Barrow, Whittle, Jones; Myler, Tommy Bishop; Warlow, Sayer, Watson, Rees, Chisnall, Coslett. Bobby Wanbon was the other substitute.Allan’s elder brother, Tommy, was scrum-half in that match, who had joined the club from Barrow before the Challenge Cup deadline in 1966. It was his last season at Knowsley Road before joining the Cronulla club in Sydney. Indeed, for both brothers, their Saints’ careers would soon be at an end.
Allan played the last of his 8 competitive matches for the club in the 5-8 reversal against Workington on 12th April 1969 in a home league match. Allan was partnered in the halves by Alan Whittle.
Competition was fierce at St Helens and he went on to join Blackpool Borough for £2,500 in 1970, where he became a firm favourite with the fans at Borough Park. He was a clever footballer, with good hands and was elusive in open play. Yet as his former Saints’ team-mate Terry Loughlin remembers, there was more to him than that: “He was the toughest little man I ever knew. Allan had lots of fighting spirit –he was mentally tough - and could impose himself on a game, despite his size. In fact it was Allan who recommended me to go to Blackpool when he was there. Allan had gone to Blackpool with another former Saint – Tim Pickup, who played full-back. The Blackpool Chairman Mr Emery thought the world of Allan.”
Alan served Blackpool Borough well, before joining Widnes and then was recruited by Geoff Fletcher at Huyton. Anyone who has seen that fabulous documentary, ‘Another Bloody Sunday’ is left in no doubt whatsoever the toughness that was required to merely survive, never mind thrive, in those days of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a real school of hard knocks!
Allan was a great family man with a host of friends. He would willingly talk about rugby league to anyone and was a fund of stories about his own career and the wide range of characters he had come across over the years. He was also a popular member of the Saints’ Players Association.
He worked originally for Phythians the butchers and thereby hangs another tale. Terry Loughlin again: “Allan broke his collarbone during a match at Blackpool and promptly drove back to St Helens in the 10 hundredweight company van he had borrowed and I sat next to him changing gears!”
Such hair-raising tales put him in good stead for his later working life as a landlord at the Phoenix Hotel in Canal Street [after his brother Tommy], the Bulls Head in Parr and the Globe Hotel behind the Town Hall. Allan was also steward at the Sidac Social Club and was recently employed as a taxi driver, mostly working in the Liverpool area. “He was my best mate in rugby,” adds Terry Loughlin “and we will all miss him terribly.”
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|9th Aug 1968||
|14||Swinton*||Fr Gallie Cup||1968~69||H||13||9||VIEW|
|20th Sep 1968||
|11th Nov 1968||
|7||Hull Kingston Rovers||L||1968~69||H||21||5||VIEW|
|16th Nov 1968||
|23rd Nov 1968||
|4th Dec 1968||
|28th Mar 1969||
|4th Apr 1969||
|7th Apr 1969||
|12th Apr 1969||
|9th Aug 1969||
|14||Swinton*||Fr Gallie Cup||1969~70||A||32||4||VIEW|
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|
|WINS : 8 | LOSSES : 2 | DRAWS : 1|
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