St Helens have paid tribute to former forward Chris Charles, who has sadly passed away aged 72.
Chris was recruited from Llanelli RUFC, in August 1974 to bolster the Saints’ front row and made his competitive debut at home to Workington in the first round of the Lancashire Cup when he packed down with Mick Murphy and young hooker Graham Liptrot.
It was a strong side too, with four other Welshmen in the line-up: Frank Wilson, Roy Mathias, his former team-mate at Llanelli, John Mantle and Kel Coslett. The visitors came away with the spoils, however, winning 11-13, but Chris showed that he was a powerful scrummager, although it was to be several games before he really became accustomed to his new rugby environment, when he was able to put his size and power to good effect.
Chris played 14 games during the 1974-75 season, when the Saints won their one and only First Division Championship and was unlucky not to have played in any finals at top level for the club during his 52 games in the red vee.
Once described as a ‘vivacious’ character, he came to St Helens with a burgeoning reputation in Welsh rugby union, beginning with Burry Port RUFC; on to Aberavon, before joining Llanelli, for whom he made 99 appearances. Chris played representative rugby for West Wales v Australia, Western Counties v Japan and for the Welsh ‘B’ team against France. He never appeared on the pitch for the full Welsh XV, although he was a substitute at one time.
Chris always approached his rugby at full tilt and was a loyal clubman. Yet with fellow Welshman Mel James back in the side after injury and the experienced Dave Chisnall and Neil Courtney vying for places, he joined Oldham, playing his final game for St Helens at Widnes on 6th January 1977. He made 24 appearances for the Second Division side [Heritage Number #808] including a Challenge Cup tie at Watersheddings against his former club on 12th March 1978, which Saints won 26-11.
On returning home, he continued in the 15-a-side code, despite his involvement with the rugby league game, when he helped to develop the junior section at Burry Port RUFC and later became first team coach.
Sadly pre-deceased by his wife, Helen, everyone at St Helens R.F.C. send their condolences to his daughters Jayne and Andrea. His funeral took place in Llanelli on 18th November.