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Hull FC legend Tony Duke passes away

Hull FC MKM Stadium

Hull FC legend Tony Duke has sadly passed away as confirmed by the club today.

He made a huge 216 appearances for the club in some of their most successful spells as a club.

Duke had been valiantly battling dementia for some time and the club had done their bit to raise awareness in recent years.

Everyone at Serious About Rugby League sends their thoughts to his family and friends at this difficult time.

In a 15 year career with the Black & Whites, Duke made 216 club appearances, winning multiple honours; most famously featuring in the 1982 Challenge Cup Final Replay victory against Widnes at Elland Road.

One of the club’s finest English hookers of all-time, he made his first-team debut in the 1967-68 season – despite being small in stature, Duke played with great heart and reliable service.

A mainstay in the side throughout the 1970s, he made appearances in multiple finals for the club, and although not always selected to feature in the big occasions, he played a crucial role in helping the club on their way to achieve great successes including the 1969 Yorkshire Cup, 1979/80 BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, and the 1981/82 John Player Trophy.

He was also a key player in the club’s record breaking ‘Invincibles’ season in 1978/79 that saw the club promoted back to the First Division in remarkable fashion.

Throughout his career with the Airlie Birds, Duke had several great rivals for the hooking role, notably Alan McGlone, Roy Firth, Ian Crowther and during the glory days of the early 1980s, Ronnie Wileman. However, his various coaches were always well aware that in times of need, the dependable Tony Duke was always there.

That was indeed the circumstance that prompted Arthur Bunting to call upon Tony at the age of 39 to deputise for Wileman in the 1982 Challenge Cup Replay at Elland Road in May 1982.

He and the similarly aging but legendary Clive Sullivan were part of the iconic team who brought the Challenge Cup back to the Boulevard for the first time in 68 years.

Tony finally retired at the end of the following season, but not before making 15 appearances during the 1982/83 campaign and playing his part in the Black & Whites winning the Championship title, and the Yorkshire Cup – his final match was at Carlisle on 10th April 1983.

‘Dukey’ remained a popular figure within the club’s Ex-Players Association, regularly appearing at club events with his fellow teammates to reminisce on some of the club’s greatest ever victories.

Such was his iconic status, he delivered the match ball at the MKM Stadium on two occasions in recent seasons, against Warrington in 2020, and against Wigan in 2022 with several of his Challenge Cup winning teammates.

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