|Triallist Knowles by Alex Service |
During the early post-war years, the Saints were heavily involved in trying to build a team capable of challenging for major honours. They did use the transfer market, of course, but also gave a number of rugby union players trials in the First team. Welshman Len Constance is a case in point, when he made his debut against Wigan at stand-off and was subsequently signed by the club. On 26th October 1946 against Halifax at Knowsley Road there was another new signing to keep the crowd happy who was making his debut: Johnny Jones, from Llanelly, who made a favourable impression with his tackling in particular. Also, Recorder, in the St. Helens Reporter observed that he “appeared to be exceedingly nippy on his pins in spite of his generous fifteen stone of bulk”.
There was another prospect for the crowd to savour, a new stand-off presumably from the fifteen-a-side code, who was playing under the pseudonym ‘Knowles’. So how did the triallist fare? Recorder seemed to sum matters up fairly and objectively: “Knowles played a very smart and alert game for the first twenty minutes, and tackled smartly and soundly. He looked very good to me. Then he began to fade out giving Kenny too much space to manoeuvre in and missing his man. Shortly after half-time he looked very tired and I fancy Messrs Dolan and Stott decided to put Greenall out-half and Knowles on the wing. Here he played adequately while the more experienced Greenall put the pep back into the fly-half position. What then of Knowles? I reserve judgement. I do not think he was fit and I’m sure the game was strange to him. I think it quite possible for him to prove a first-class out-half.
To follow up, it appears Knowles played another trial in the A Team and then the trail went cold. There does not seem to be any further intention of the club signing him.