WILLIE WATSON, probably the finest all-round sportsman Huddersfield has ever produced, has died at his home in South Africa aged 84.
He was one of only 12 men to have represented England at both football and cricket, and one of only four to have played football for Town and cricket for Yorkshire.
The son of Billy Watson, who was a key component in the Town side which achieved the famous League title hat trick between 1924-26, Willie was born and bred in Paddock.
He attended Paddock Council School then Royds Hall Grammar. Having played both football and cricket for his local clubs, he was snapped up by Town in 1937 and Yorkshire the year after.
Watson played 11 times for Town during the 1938-39 top-flight campaign before the war interrupted his career in both sports.
By the time hostilities ceased, he had become unsettled at the football club, and after putting in a transfer request, moved to Sunderland for £7,000 in April, 1946.
A condition of the move was that Watson's new club allowed him to continue playing top-level cricket, and he remained a Yorkshire player until joining Leicestershire in 1957, by which time the left-hander had scored 13,593 first-class runs for the club with 26 centuries.
His first England call came in football, with a debut against Northern Ireland at Maine Road in November 1949, the first of four appearances for a player who was included in the squad for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
In cricket, he played in 23 Tests between 1951-59, and will always be remembered for his magnificent 109 in a marathon 346 minutes against Australia at Lord's in 1953, when his epic stand with Trevor Bailey saved England from almost certain defeat.
Watson, who had skippered Leicestershire, retired from cricket in 1964 with a career record of 25,670 first-class runs and 55 centuries.
His football career had ended in 1955, by which time he was playing for Halifax. He later had managerial stints at both that club and Bradford City.
In 1968, Watson and wife Barbara emigrated to South Africa to take up the post of sports manager of the Wanderers Cricket Club in Johannesburg.
Former Test umpire Dickie Bird, who also played for Yorkshire and Leicestershire, said: "It was Willie who persuaded me to join him at Leicestershire and I have happy memories of batting with him at Grace Road.
"He was one of the finest batsmen on bad wickets that I have ever seen and the only greater ones in my opinion were Wally Hammond and Len Hutton."
Former Yorkshire and England captain, Brian Close, said: "Willie was one of the top lads at both cricket and soccer and his innings against Australia at Lord's was memorable. He was a great batsman and a delight to watch."
Yorkshire's director of operations Geoff Cope said: "Willie Watson played in an era which allowed him to be one of the last double internationals and that shows the talent of the man.
"His cricketing prowess meant he was tremendously respected in the game."