So much could be said of Peter Fox, who passed away this week… player, coach, motivator, winner, gentleman and family man.
He coached our national teams, beat Australia, coached Yorkshire county to six successive Origin or War of the Roses wins, won the Challenge Cup, won the Championship and won another three trophies, too. He was the eldest brother of another couple of rugby league legends, too, Don and Neil.
With a Wakefield bias to our obituary, Peter was born in Sharlston in 1933 but arrived at Belle Vue in 1966 after playing stints at Featherstone, Hull KR, Hunslet and Batley. He was bought out of retirement to assist with the A-team and and joined his brothers at Belle Vue. After a couple of games he was selected in the first team at Swinton in September 1966 in a young side that Harold Poynton captained, but neither Don or Neil played with him. He was injured in the first half and replaced at half time, thus the 13-27 loss was the last of his 245 first team appearances as he then retired.
Fast forward eight years and he was back at Belle Vue. Having taken up coaching and winning at Wembley with Featherstone in 1973 his successful three year stint at Rovers came to an end in the summer of 1974. Replacing brother, Neil, at Trinity he inherited players such as David Topliss, Mick Morgan, Les Sheard, Terry Crook and a young Trevor Skerrett and took them to the Yorkshire Cup Final in the first few months, only to lose to second division, Hull KR, 13-16. Within months he took Trinity to within a whisker of Wembley, when, after spectacular Belle Vue wins over St.Helens and Hull KR, Widnes defeated Trinity 13-7 in the Odsal mud in the semi final.
The following season, 1975-76, Peter brought in Graham Idle and the Rayne twins, Keith and Kevin but despite a better squad, the team still struggled despite reaching the Premiership Trophy semi finals. Injuries hampered progress and when the committee started to interfere Peter lost faith and eventually left the club in the summer of 1976. He had coached for two seasons, winning 39 of his 82 games.
History then shows he coached Bramley, winning five trophies with Bradford, including two Championships, Leeds, returning to both Bradford and Featherstone aswell as Yorkshire, England and Great Britain. His second test mastermind win over Australia in 1978, the ‘Dad’s Army’ test at Odsal, goes down in rugby league folklore.
Peter had the skill to lift and motivate players to the best of their ability and there are numerous rugby league legends who owe their career to Peter. In later life, he retired to East Ardsley where he has lived quietly with a long term illness before passing away this week.
Our sincere thoughts go to wife Joan, daughters Susan and Karen and extended family, including brother Neil.