Funeral details for Mick Sullivan announced

THE FUNERAL service of rugby league legend Mick Sullivan will take place at Dewsbury Minster on Thursday April 28.

The ceremony for the former GB, Wigan, St Helens, Huddersfield and Dewsbury star, who died last week aged 82, begins at 11.15am before committal at Dewsbury Crematorium at 12.30pm, followed by a function at Shaw Cross Sharks’ clubhouse off Leeds Road.

Donations will be collected for the benefit of the Danny Jones Defibrillator Appeal.


Farewell, Sully ... a true legend of rugby league

TRIBUTES have poured in from across the world of rugby league after the death last Tuesday of one of the sport’s true legends, Mick Sullivan, at the age of 82.

Mick died in his daughter Michelle’s arms at Pinderfields Hospital after being admitted the week before with pneumonia.

He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a number of years and, more recently, prostate cancer.

The former Shaw Cross Boys Club product had a stellar, record-breaking career, with Wigan and St Helens breaking the world transfer record to sign him after he began his professional career with Huddersfield.

When he came home to Dewsbury he took the Crown Flatt side to within one game of Wembley.

He jointly holds the record for Great Britain caps (46) with Garry Schofield and was GB’s leading all-time try-scorer with 41.

Mick’s health had steadily declined after he lost his beloved wife Jean in 2008 and he had lived in care homes for a number of years.

Speaking shortly after he passed away, Michelle said: “Dad was always a fighter, and he fought to the very end. Last night I was sat with him and there was a clap of thunder. I thought, that’s mum telling him to get a bloody move on! She would want dad with her, so they could watch his little princess getting married together.” Their eldest granddaughter Aimee marries David Bullock next Saturday (April 16) in North Yorkshire.

Michelle added: “How we will fill the hole in our lives I’m not sure. Dad has been an inspiration to not only his children and grandchildren but I am sure to many young up-and-coming rugby players.

“Dad was always a gentleman and would do anything and always had time for anyone. He was the most devoted grandad to Scott, Aimee and Mia as they were to him. Even with his illness we still tried to get dad out to as many functions as possible, like Lions reunions.

“He managed to attend his induction into the Rugby Hall of Fame in 2013, it was just a shame it came so late that he didn’t know – but better late than never.

“Throughout his stay in care there was one great friend, Sam Morton, who visited regularly and without fail would always bring rugby memorabilia and sit patiently with dad.

“This in itself is so heartbreaking, to watch your friend deteriorate in front of you so rapidly, but he still kept going week after week and we thank him so much for this.”

The family are going to create an annual Mick Sullivan Award for sporting achievement for a young player at his former Shaw Cross club, roots that he never forgot.

Michelle said: “Our dad lived a great life and achieved so much but was so humble with this and he was respected by so many. What more could we ask for in a dad and grandad? The legacy he has left will last forever. We feel so proud to have had him in our life.

“I would like to thank everyone for all the amazing tributes – we have been overwhelmed – and I know dad’s memory will last forever as he was simply the best.”

Because of the family wedding next Saturday and Mick’s brother Barry visiting family in Australia, no date has yet been set for his funeral service. We will print details next week.


‘As tough and as skilful as they come’

FORMER Dewsbury Celtic and Heavy Woollen stalwart Sam Morton was the long-time curator of the Rugby League Heritage Centre at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, and Mick Sullivan’s closest friend during his long years of illness.

This week Sam said: “I’ve known Michael for what? – much more than 50 years. He was the most modest, gentle, accommodating man that you could meet, for all that he was hard as nails on the rugby field and a fierce competitor. Mick had no edge to him, he’d do anything for anyone. He was respectful of people and just so easy to like.

“When I was at the Heritage Centre at the George, the hotel staff treated Mick like royalty, which was lovely to see. I’d bring him over to meet fans from around the world – he had time for everybody – and sometimes his old pals like Tom van Vollenhoven when he visited from South Africa.

“In rugby terms, I know I’m biased, but he was right up there with the very best, a true legend. As tough as they come, as skilful as they come.”

A three time Challenge Cup winner and two-time World Cup winner, Mick was equally at home playing centre or wing, and also stand-off. He scored a hat-trick in the deciding Ashes test against Australia in 1958 – he won four Ashes series – and was player-coach at the Junee club in NSW from 1966-68, where he is still fondly remembered.

Hundreds of fans have left social media tributes. Mick’s old friend from the very beginnings of Shaw Cross Boys Club, Douglas Hird, paid this tribute:

“Mick Sullivan was one of the first youngsters to join the Shaw Cross Boys Club in 1948 and few can argue that he was the greatest product of the club. I first remember Mick as a very slim lad who was brought to the club by his pal David Smith when he set out to play the hard game of rugby. He may have lacked in stature and posture but he had two important attributes – speed and determination.

“Mick was good at all sports at the club; in athletics he won the 100 yds and 220 yds races in the county championships and also excelled in the county swimming championships.

“He and his Shaw Cross teammate Norman Wainwright both played for England at rugby union in two under 18s internationals for the National Association of Boys’ Clubs against Wales in 1950 and 1951.

“In the second match, Mick scored two tries against the Welsh side, which was captained by Billy Boston.

“Mick was a life-long friend and in his later years he always attended the annual sportsmen’s dinners at the club and was, rightly so, held in high esteem by all who knew him. I shall miss him very much; it’s the end of a remarkable sporting era.”

Former BBC commentator Ray French added: “The ultimate professional, that was my former teammate, Mick Sullivan. Though most warm-hearted and a true friend to all off the pitch, Mick was the toughest and most competitive winger I ever played alongside or against.

“His outstanding record at international level between 1954 and 1966 brought him 41 tries in 46 appearances for Great Britain. One of the best loved characters of our game but, truly, one of the greats.”

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