|Bill McGarrigan by SHS |
On some occasions, players make the most of where they have been selected, irrespective of their true position. Perhaps Jason Robinson should have ‘made the grade’ as a half-back, rather than on the wing, yet fate intervened. When the Saints played Halifax at Thrum Hall on 23 March 1929, the threequarter line had a rather unusual look: John Pickering, Billy Mercer, Dai Davies and Bill McGarrigan. No Ellaby, of course with only Mercer of established quality. According to the St. Helens Newspaper, Halifax won easily, but the Saints’ had certainly a ‘find’ in the lad making his debut on the left flank, McGarrigan.
It does seem that young Bill made an impression in a team that was clearly under the cosh. “The best tackler on the field was McGarrigan, the new wing,” continued the Newspaper. “He went low every time and gave his opponent a gruelling time”. It was also apparent, perhaps, that the youngster did not have the sustained pace of an Ellaby to finish off attacks along the flanks: “He was very nippy, but lacked speed in a long burst of thirty yards and his doggedness stamped him as a possible candidate for scrum-half. He is very similar in build to Dennett and has had experience as a half-back in the Wigan and District League”.
Bill played in the same position the following week against Wigan in the Good Friday ‘derby’ at Central Park, with Dai Davies once more his centre. Alas, the Saints went down to a somewhat disappointing 28-8 defeat and it was the last time Bill was to appear for the Seniors.
The correspondent of the St. Helens Newspaper made a sound prediction about his rugby league future. As a Broughton Rangers player, he went on to represent Lancashire in 1932 as a scrum-half and for a spell, his stand-off partner was the former Saint Jack Garvey, who had been sold in the mid 1930s when the financial crisis at Knowsley Road worsened. Bill later played five matches for Leigh in 1937, scoring a try. Bill worked a Builder’s Labourer and in 1939 he was living in Hilt Street, Ince, Wigan. He passed away in Wigan in July 1986, aged 77.