Leigh Centurions this morning announced that they were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of former player Billy McAtee at the age of 65.
McAtee made his debut in 1977 giving him heritage number 869. In doing so, he was following in the footsteps of his two brothers who also played for Leigh. Peter McAtee made his Leigh debut in 1970 and is heritage number 782 whilst John McAtee made his debut in 1972 making him heritage number 807.
Of the three, John had the most illustrious Leigh career with 148 games for the club, however that makes the passing of his younger brother no less saddening.
The fourth brother, Dave, also played the game at a high level for Swinton and all four are highly thought of at Langworthy Juniors in Salford. A tremendous sporting family, Billy’s nephew John made his St Helens debut at 16 in 1992 and also played for South Wales and Swinton. His sons are current professional footballers for Grimsby and Manchester City.
Part of an amazing family of people who have contributed greatly to our great game and to sport in general, Billy’s passing is made all the more saddening and Leigh were eager to pass their condolences onto the McAtee family as well as Billy’s friends.
Steve Moyse who is secretary at Swinton and knew Billy very well has also paid a lovely tribute to the man: “Billy McAtee and his brothers epitomised the creativity of our game, playing with and against the best. Billy was quiet and unassuming- until it mattered. Farewell old friend, the game is ‘o’er, the whistle’s blown, the flag we lower. RIP Billy McATEE.”