Alan Hunte by Dave Dooley:
Alan Hunte was a very classy back whose abilities were in evidence right from his debut match against Oldham on March 1st., 1989. In this match he demonstrated lightning speed, great elusive qualities and mature positional play for debutant aged just 18 years old. Alan had the look of a player who had played the game all his life. His two tries on that day alerted the St Helens public to the fact that we had signed someone special - how true were those predictions! He was destined to become a regular international for Great Britain. Alan was a ubiquitous player equally comfortable at full back, in the centre or on the wing. He was also a sound defender and had a very safe pair of hands underneath a high bomb. His 189 tries from 244 matches for the Saints generated a tries to games ratio of 0.77 again this puts Alan in the very top bracket of finishers to have played at Knowsley Road.
His eight games played at the death of the 1988-9 season demonstrate Alan`s adaptability. He played six matches on the right wing, one at full back and even started the home league match against Featherstone Rovers at stand off. Despite, the Saints experiencing one of their dark periods in terms of results the form of Alan lifted the support`s spirits. When Saints recalled Michael O` Connor from Australia for the 1989 Challenge Cup Final debacle against Wigan, it was Alan who dropped out of team to vacate the right wing spot. He was selected however one week later for the Premiership Semi Final but Saints were on the wrong end of a 38 points to 14 score-line against Widnes at Naughton Park.
The 19989/90 season saw Alan straight into the first team and there he stayed for much of the next nine campaigns. He ended the season as top of the joint top try scorer with Phil Veivers on 21 tries for the season. Alan`s haul included two hat tricks against Runcorn and Hull KR. His adaptability was demonstrated by the positions he played that year - on both wings, at centre and stand off as the occasion demanded. On the general club front the experimentation with player combinations continued with the team playing no fewer than 36 players over the campaign. No fewer than nine players were tried on the wing. Alan played the last few games of the campaign at centre - this was very much a sign of things to come. Although ending up close to the top of the league as the highest scorers, some inconsistencies were denying the team and Alan of the big prizes.
In the 1990/1 campaign the Saints yet again rattled up the points unfortunately the side was defensively stretched in many games and 11 losses in the league left Cooper`s men in sixth position in the league. After a fabulous tryscoring performance in the 19 points to 2 semi-final win over Widnes in the Challenge Cup semi-final, Alan got the nod to start the Challenge Cup Final against the old enemy on the right wing. Alan managed to score a well taken try but generally the ball did not get out too much to the wings on that afternoon. Saints had fallen at the final hurdle as Wigan held on to a handy half time lead to prevail by 13 points to 8. Alan would have to wait another five years to pick up a Challenge Cup winner`s medal. He finished the season with an impressive 26 tries and jointly on top of the club tryscoring charts, sharing the honour with a rampant Les Quirk. Alan`s haul included four tries in the 62 points to 16 drubbing of Warrington and no fewer than six braces against other teams.
After scoring a hat trick against Trafford Borough in the first round of the Lancashire Cup, Alan suffered an injury which kept him out of the 1991 Lancashire Cup Final victory over Rochdale Hornets. Despite all his tries and top performances for the club, Alan was unlucky when it came to missing out on winning Finals` matches. Alan roared back to form a fortnight after this Final and ended the season as the club`s top try scorer with 24 tries from 30 games. Alan added hat tricks against Bradford Northern and Halifax to the one tallied against Trafford Borough. His tryscoring feats were rewarded at the end of the season as Alan joined teammates Connolly, Loughlin and Nickle on the 1992 Australasian Tour.
Alan was again top of the charts in the 1992/3 season with 28 tries form 34 matches. He netted a hat trick against Barrow from the full back position after showing admirable defensive qualities in the whitewashing of Wigan in the Charity Shield competition at Gateshead. Alan also raced in for four tries as Saints demolished Leigh by 64 points to 9 in a home league match. `Huntey` played his part by scoring an impressive brace of tries when the Saints whipped the boys from Wigan by a fabulous score-line of 41 points to 6. Everyone felt that the balance of power was finally shifting westwards over Billinge Lump after that game but at the end of the season Saints lost out to Wigan on points difference at the top of the table following an 8 points all drawn match at Central Park, again Alan was on the mark against the old enemy. Finally, some consolation came however in the last match of the season as the Saints defeated Wigan by 10 points to 4 in the 1993 Premiership Final at Old Trafford. At Last Alan collected his first winner`s medal with the Saints.
The loss of Gary Connolly in the backs and Kevin Ward in the pack was too great for the following campaign as Saints slumped to eighth place in the league. Alan had a steady season as he played all over the park in a very much a stop- start affair as the team struggled to gain any consistency. The highlight of the 1993/4 campaign for Alan was the hat trick he scored at Featherstone Rovers. At the end of the 1993/4 season, the Saints were again disappointed to be staring at an empty trophy cabinet.
The 1994/5 season saw Alan at the top of his form and at the top of the club tryscoring charts with 29 tries from the same number of matches. This proved to be a career best total for Alan. He romped in for four tries against Castleford and hat tricks against Sheffield and Widnes. The truncated Centenary Season was a complete washout for Alan as he underwent surgery to prepare him and the club for the fully professional era of Super League.
Alan returned to the side for the semi-final of the Challenge Cup against Widnes in the 1996 campaign. He celebrated his return with a try. The never to be forgotten Challenge Cup Final against Bradford saw Alan on the bench as he collected a Challenge Cup winner`s medal as the Saints prevailed by 40 points to 32. Saints played some fabulous rugby as they at last had put together a squad that could reign supreme in the Super League era. Alan was on hand in the last league match of the season as Saints needed to beat Warrington to become the inaugural Champions. The Saints played Champagne football as the Wire were put to the sword to the tune of 66 points to 14. Alan completed a hat trick that day as the town was painted red and white. That summer was spent down under again as Alan joined another seven Saints players in a Test series against Australia.
Alan played the 1997 season exclusively in the centres and ended the season as joint top try scorer with 27 tries. His positional play and finishing were of the highest order in that campaign. Alan demonstrated his clinical finishing in the 1997 Challenge Cup semi-final against Salford. His hat trick featured high in the 50 points to 20 Saints` victory. However, Alan`s cruel fortune came to the fore again in the match a couple of weeks later against Warrington as Alan was injured in the 60 points to 16 pasting of Warrington. This robbed him of a Challenge Cup winner`s medal as Saints outclasses Bradford Bulls to lift the cup for the second year running. He scored another hat trick in that campaign against Sheffield Eagles. After a great start to the season the wheels came off the Saints challenge for Championship honours and the team were at the wrong end of some batterings against antipodean opposition. Throughout the campaign Alan was one of the most consistent players and he arguably had his best season in the centres. The shock at the end of the turmoil was the announcement that Saints had transferred Alan to Hull. This meant that Hunte would not be eligible for a testimonial.
Alan Hunte was as adaptable as he was classy. His 189 tries (7th on the all-time list) were scored from various back positions. `Huntey` had a great rapport with the spectators and was always an open and amiable fellow. He even scored in his last match against Brisbane as the Australians demonstrated the gap in class that existed between the two leagues. Without doubt he was one of our all time greats and was inducted into the Saints Players Association Hall of Fame during their Annual Luncheon in 2015.