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Well, you?ve no doubt heard about how great a winger was or is Wendell Sailor or Lote Tuquiri, that Nathan Blacklock topped the NRL try-scorers list three year running. Older folk will no doubt remember Larry Corowa, or Les Kiss, or Michael Cleary or Ken Irvine as great wingers. All of them athletic, strapping players.
The greatest ever winger was, however, a middle-sized, balding old-looking coot (some called him frail and gaunt) with a ungainly and awkward, almost tottering running style who wore so many bandages on his knees he looked like he?d gone missing from Harold Park Trots.
What?s more the greatest ever winger never played for Australia or England, in fact he was hardly ever seen by Aussies - he only played a few lower grade games for Sydney?s Eastern Suburbs before World War 2, but he did play for a couple of English league teams, most notably Warrington.
Brian Bevan was in the navy during the 2nd world war and he turned up in England looking for matches. He played OK, nothing flash and was offered a contract. Believe it or not he then had to sail back to Australia, get demobbed, then return to England to take up his contract. All by sea.
Once he started he didn?t stop. This bloke was a try scoring machine and played so many games he streeted the opposition for try scoring and will never be beaten, by anyone at anytime. Bevan scored a world record 796 tries in first class matches, the next closest was Britain?s most famous representative winger Billy Boston with 571 tries.
As for statistics, get a load of these figures, and remember the English competition was pretty good between WW2 and the early 1960s. Bevan scored: ? seven tires in a match twice; ? six tries in a match four times; ? five tries in a match six times; and ? four tries in a match twenty times. Bevan scored 66 hat-tricks in single matches for Warrington and 100 hat-tricks in a first class career.
What was it about Bevan that made him so good ? Firstly, he was fast. Bevan was the U/12 NSW sprint champion, and like many gifted sportsman he was good at other sports, including cricket. Bevan had the full compliment of winger?s skills including swerves, steps off either foot, a jinking running style and as preparedness to back himself against a whole team. Stories of Bevan?s great tries are the stuff of legend, beating whole teams on 100 plus yard runs, tries that went from corner to corner ? not just your average outflanking on the sideline. He is supposed to have beaten an entire team twice in one memorable try. Some reports have him able to run backwards faster than many players ran forwards and he was prepared to dance, weave and crab around the field to get away from and past the opposition.
It is simple and clear. Bevan outstripped and continues to overawe the try-scoring feats of every generation. He is renowned for his brilliance and winger?s magic. We all know about Laurie Daly?s statue at Canberra, and King Wally?s statue at Brisbane, well Bevan not only has a statue on his own island (well round-about traffic island?) in the Warrington Causeway !
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