HE’S one of the greatest ever players to have worn the claret and gold of Huddersfield.
And 90-year-old Australian Fartown legend Pat Devery was back in town yesterday to relive some of his fondest rugby league memories.
The half-back was at the heart of the Huddersfield club’s success in the late 1940s and early 1950s – he arrived in 1947 and stayed until 1954, making 223 appearances and scoring 98 tries in the process – and was a key member of Fartown’s last Challenge Cup final victory, against St Helens in 1953.
For the past 30 years, the former schoolteacher has lived in the American state of Oregon.
But he returned to Huddersfield this week to visit old friends with his wife Delores and admitted it proved an emotional occasion.
During his first visit to the town since 1998, he was taken to the old Fartown ground by Huddersfield RL club historian David Gronow and was then a guest of Giants’ chairman Ken Davy at the club’s current John Smith’s Stadium home.
“Coming back to Huddersfield is always special, because the people of this town are so wonderful,” said Devery, who along with New Zealander Peter Henderson is now the only surviving member of Fartown’s 1953 Challenge Cup-winning side.
“To be honest, it did hurt a little when I saw the old Fartown ground.
“When I was playing there, the terraces were packed with thousands and thousands of fans.
“But now those terraces have all been demolished and it’s sad to see.
“Having said that, it was still wonderful to set foot on the field once again and try and relieve some of those very special memories.
“We had a fantastic team back then and, all being well, Huddersfield is about to return to those glorious days.
“Back in Oregon, it’s impossible to find out anything about rugby league. But in the few days I’ve been here I’ve been told all about the Giants’ great start to the season – the team is top of Super League XVIII after winning their opening four games ahead of tomorrow’s home derby game against Bradford Bulls – and I couldn’t be happier about that.”
Unfortunately, Pat and Delores are returning to London today ahead of flying back home and are unable to attend this weekend’s game.
But the Fartown Hall of Fame member was presented with a current Giants’ Super League shirt with his name on the back in recognition of his latest visit.
And one of Huddersfield’s most famous adopted rugby league sons hasn’t ruled out a return to England if the Giants reach either the Challenge Cup final in August or Super League Grand Final two months later.
“From what I can gather, there’s every chance they could make it,” he added.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to Huddersfield’s Challenge Cup final appearances in 2006 and 2009, but it’s certainly at the back of my mind if they get there again.
“They didn’t win on those occasions, so it would be nice to think I could make it to a final when they win.”