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DAVE ROBINSON – The loss of a true Lion

01 October 2022

Just a couple of days ago everyone associated with Swinton Lions RLFC was shocked to hear of the death at the age of 78 of one of the club’s true all-time greats, Dave Robinson. Dave was an absolute gentleman, with an approachable and modest demeanour, despite all the great things he had achieved in our sport, not just with Swinton, but also with Wigan, his county, and his country.

Dave was born in Swinton on 1st August 1944, and growing up he attended Moorside Secondary School. Excelling in rugby league at school, he joined the premier local amateur side, Folly Lane Juniors, where still in his teens he was spotted and recruited by the Lions.

Dave made his Swinton first-team debut at the age of 19 on 21st March 1964 in a 16-7 Western Division victory over Leigh at Station Road, a game in which his future Great Britain team-mate Johnny Stopford scored a hat-trick. However, Dave would have to wait until the following season to earn a regular place, and in the meantime the Lions swept to their second consecutive Rugby League Championship, their sixth overall.

Dave’s arrival coincided with the great Albert Blan’s retirement, and such was his talent that he was trusted to fill the huge gap at loose-forward left by his predecessor. In Dave’s first full season he was just 80 minutes from Wembley when the Lions lost to Wigan in the 1965 Challenge Cup semi-final. A few months later, in August 1965, he scored the first two of his eventual 32 tries for the Lions in home victory over Widnes.

Dave’s impact at Swinton was immediate. He was terrifically fast in the loose, and his clever prompting of the Swinton attack from his pivot position soon brought him to the attention of the representative selectors. In October 1965, he was chosen for Lancashire to play the touring New Zealanders, then found himself in the full Great Britain team for the Third Test which was drawn 9-9 against the Kiwis a month later. 

From thereon he became a regular in the Great Britain line-up and won 12 consecutive caps as a Swinton player. This sequence included all five Tests on the Ashes Tour of 1966, when he was one of four Swinton men to make the trip (the others being Ken Gowers, Alan Buckley and Johnny Stopford). Dave also played in 17 games against Australian and New Zealand club and regional teams on the 1966 Tour, scoring four tries.

Dave had an outstanding match for the Lions in their 1969 Lancashire Cup Final victory over Leigh, and he also played for his club against the 1965 Kiwis and 1967 Kangaroos. However, in January 1970, Dave was controversially sold to Wigan for a club record £10,000, where he earned a place on the 1970 Ashes Tour and played in a Challenge Cup Final. In all Dave played 143 times for Wigan, scoring 17 tries.

He returned to the Lions in February 1976 in an unsuccessful effort to stem the Lions’ slide towards the second division, and retired towards the end of the 1976/77 season. Dave’s last appearance in a Swinton shirt had come on 6th March 1977, a game the Lions won 24-14 against Batley at Station Road.

Heartfelt condolences are extended to Dave’s family, especially wife Kath, and all of his many friends. The name of Dave Robinson will never be forgotten at Swinton Lions RLFC.

Please note that there will be a one minute silence ahead of kick-off tomorrow in honour of Dave’s memory. There will also be a special insert in the match day programme.


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