Wakefield Trinity lost their oldest living player when former winger, Jack Perry, passed away on Monday (8th January), aged 93. He was a member of the 1940s Trinity squad winning Yorkshire caps aswell as a couple of Yorkshire Cup winners medals.
Jackie was born in Altofts in May 1924 and played his first rugby league at Wheldale Colliery in Castleford in the 1930s before joining Trinity in 1943, during the war years. A scrum half in his junior days, he debuted for Trinity at Headingley in a 12-19 loss to Leeds in a wartime emergency league game, kicking three goals. In an interview a couple of years ago he remembered his debut well and noted all his Trinity colleagues of the day, including Hall of Famer, Harry Wilkinson. The following week he moved to the wing, scoring against Hull in a 10-5 win and there he stayed for the next five years. In his first season, Perry finished with seven tries and eleven goals in his eleven appearances. Trinity finished top of the Wartime League table in 1944 but lost to Dewsbury in the play off semi final, with Jack on the wing.
The following season he topped the Trinity try scoring lists with twenty three but the following season caused him much bitterness (which was still there to his dying days) when he was dropped for the 1946 RL Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, although he did pick up a Yorkshire :League Championship winners medal in the 1945-46 season.
Jack was very proud of his wing play and told of many tales of his tries and duels with opposite wingers of the 1940s. Of his own teammates, he was an admirer of his captain and centre, Billy Stott. He created many of Jack’s tries, as did Herbert Goodfellow who, he noted ‘was the brains behind the Trinity team’.
In his interview he also fondly remembered his Yorkshire Cup Finals, beating Hull 10-0 in 1946, and beating Leeds 8-7, in a 1947 replay after a 7-7 draw. In the replay, Jack won all the plaudits when, aswell as kicking the winning goal, he chased and caught the Leeds international stand off, Dickie Williams, tackling just short of the line in the last ten minutes when a Leeds try looked certain. Trinity’s captain, Harry Murphy, told him afterwards that he had probably won the cup for them that day, one of his proudest moments in a Trinity shirt. Another of Jackie’s memories was of beating Leeds 71-0 in 1945; although he only scored one try as, he noted, all the play went down the other wing!
Jack moved to Batley in December 1948 for £1,000 and was proud of his ‘Gallant Youth’ record of being the first ever player to kick 100 goals in a season (1951-52). He is also in the top twenty try scorers in Batley’s all time history. He moved to Doncaster for a year in 1955 before retiring a year later.
After his coal mining days, Jackie ran a newsagent shop in Dewsbury before running ‘The Crown’ pub in Dewsbury for many years. His family moved to Blackpool in later years, which saw Jackie follow, working at ICI before running a boarding house on the Blackpool seafront for twenty five years. His wife sadly passed away six years ago, following a battle with Alzeimers and Jackie moved to North Wales to be near his family where he passed away, peacefully, this week.
Fans of 1940s Trinity always noted Jackie as a crowd favourite and he scored 85 tries in his Trinity career along with 112 goals. His Yorkshire debut came in 1947 against Cumberland at Leeds, scoring a try in a 7-15 loss and he gained his county cap a few weeks later, at Wigan, in another loss, to Lancashire, 10-22. Jackie earned a heritage number of 523 and will, forever be a Trinity hero.