Dai Prosser

DOB
24/10/1912
Birth Place
Glyn Neath
Position
Prop
Honours
Great Britain; Wales
Heritage Number
560
APPS
327
POINTS
41

BIOGRAPHY

Born at Glyn Neath on 24th October 1912, and revelling from the age often in the rough-and-tumble of serums, mauls and rucks, Dai played in the same Neath & District Schools’ team as another Headingley favourite, dapper halfback Cliff Evans. Schooldays over, he eventually joined Swansea, winning a Glamorgan County cap in 1931, before returning to his roots, to line up in Neath colours with his brother Glyn, and promptly merit selection for the joint Aberavon-Neath XV to face the 1932 Springboks.

Now for the one jersey precious above all other! Came 1934, came the long-awaited celebration in the Prosser household, and a double one at that, Glyn packing down against England at Cardiff Arms Park, and 21-year-old Dai joining him for the next two internationals, versus Scotland at Murrayfield and Ireland at Swansea’s St Helen’s ground, with Rugby League scouts duly impressed and new horizons beckoning.

More than a year was to elapse before Glyn was finally lured to Fartown, but Dai was heading north for York within a matter of months, in readiness for his professional baptism at the hands of Keighley on 15th September 1934. Survival was never in doubt! Quick to adjust, and more than capable of looking after himself and others besides, he was soon attracting the envious eyes of the more fashionable clubs, Leeds’ interest being quickened when his stalwart display against the Loiners in the 1935 Yorkshire Cup Final was followed by selection for the Tour Trial at Weaste. Even so, it was not until Thursday 12th November 1936, just five days after he had represented Wales at Pontypridd in his first R.L. international, that the Headingley management swooped to get their man.

The fee was immaterial, the commitment total! Charged by Mr Edgar Alcock, the Football Chairman, with the task of stiffening the pack, Dai carried out his brief to the letter, providing solidity in the tight and indomitable resolution in the loose. Furthermore, his boundless energy, honest toil and will-to-win enthusiasm were catching. So one can well imagine his disappointment when the Loiners had no more to show for his first three seasons at Headingley than a Yorkshire Cup Final triumph over Huddersfield and two Yorkshire League Championships. Certainly the R.L. Championship had looked to be there for the taking in 1938, and a Wembley Final would still have been on the cards a year later had Vic Hey’s men recovered more quickly from the shock of Arthur Bassett’s controversial try at Odsal. Yet all that was water under the bridge … as the black-outs went up and searchlights began to probe the night skies, he could look back with considerable satisfaction: a Test debut against Australia at Fartown in 1937, and four more games with Wales.

A Sergeant-Instructor in the Army, Dai was able to turn out on 96 occasions in the Emergency Competitions, his reassuring presence being a tremendous boost for players, management and spectators alike, not least in the two R.L. Cup Final victories over Halifax in 1941 and 1942, as well as the two-leg Final won by Dewsbury in ’43. As for representative matches, apart from taking his final tally of internationals to eight, he figured in the pride and prejudice’ match staged at Headingley, between a Rugby League XV and a Rugby Union XV, drawn from Northern Command.

For all he was thirty-three years of age when ‘normal service’ was resumed, his fitness and stamina were never in question, putting far younger men to shame as he battled on regardless through the dark days of gloom and adversity. And how he responded to every challenge in the 1947 Cup campaign, blizzards and all,  the 1st Round drama, with snowbound Barrow playing both legs at Headingley. Home again in the 2nd, and a 5-0 mudbath defeat for Hunslet. A similar score in the 3rd, after a titanic he-man encounter, with Central Park virtually awash, then, the Semi-Final rout of Wakefield Trinity at Fartown. Only to finish as second-best to Bradford Northern at Wembley. He deserved better! As he did six months later, too, in a Yorkshire Cup Final replay, Trinity holding out to win by the odd point at Odsal.

Given a joint-benefit with Dai Jenkins in April 1949, but still playing on for one more season, his dreams of taking a curtain call at Wembley were rudely shattered by Warrington at Odsal. Headingley was his scene, anyway! So there he was on 22nd April 1950, erect as ever, broad in the shoulder and strong in the neck, barging clear from his own line and running into trouble, yet obviously ready to take on the whole Halifax team, if need be, as he fought for every yard, just as he’d done ever since 1936. And how the crowd loved it! Fourteen seasons! The fee was immaterial, the commitment total!

Based in York, where he had a fish shop, Dai took over as trainer-coach at Clarence Street for a time in the mid-Fifties, before returning to Headingley as coach in 1960-61. And what a season that turned out to be! Taking on board all the Prosser attributes of fire, dedication, grit, determination, and togetherness, without which all the skill in the world becomes devalued, the squad played like Dai, and for Dai, with heart, and won the R.L. Championship for the first time in the Club’s history.

They played like Dai, and for Dai, with heart, and won the Championship. There could surely be no finer epitaph than that for the man from Glyn Neath.