Rugby league has enjoyed a firm stronghold in the North ever since the ’split’ from rugby union and the creation of the Northern Union in 1895. Rugby league has produced many great characters beloved in the North. Yet one of the all-time greats was an Australian. Brian Bevan was a winger with Warrington who set records that may never be broken. Knees often swathed in bandages, his outstanding speed and swerve – coupled with a side-step that left defenders grasping at air – made him a devastating match-winner. Tales of the tries he scored became legend in the pubs and clubs of Warrington.
Bevan came to Britain with the Australian Royal navy, shortly before the War’s end, when his ship was being re-fit. After the War, Bevan returned to Warrington and was a fixture on the wing for 16 years.
He went on, over 620 games, to score an astonishing 740 tries for Warrington’s first team and a career total of 796 tries when including his last couple of years or so with Blackpool. Two Challenge Cup victories and three Rugby League Championships were won with Warrington until his last tearful farewell appearance, aged 37 in 1962. In 1988 Bevan was one of the nine original all-time greats to be inducted into rugby league’s Hall of Fame.
A wonderfully imaginative sculpture by Philip Bews, unveiled in 1993 just two years after the death of the great Australian, shows Brian Bevan still running – in the sky, positioned between the tall steel rugby posts. High and untouchable in Warrington.